Tri-City Ledger -

By Pete Riehm
Guest Writer 

When did sports become partisan?


July 18, 2019

In our hyper politicized society, there seems to be no respite from partisan politics anymore; it has invaded every faucet of daily life from the car you drive to the coffee you drink. The news is bluntly liberal and sometimes conservative. Education has been subsumed by political correctness. It’s difficult to just enjoy music because at any concert you will very likely endure a vitriolic political rant. Sports seemed to be the last sanctuary, but now even athletic competition is succumbing to pointed partisanship.

Politics has always been standard fare for Americans, but it was relegated to the government, political parties, media commentary and opinion pages, political talk shows, and random pubs and taverns. Now partisan politics is everywhere; it is virtually inescapable.

The news use to be just the facts and circumstances of current events as discovered by the reporter. The press strived for objectivity, so they dutifully presented both sides for the consumer to assess. Over the past several decades news and opinion became increasingly blurred and even blended until today they are essentially indistinguishable. The media has blatantly abandoned objectivity and any pretense of neutrality.

Every media outlet has picked a side and specifically manipulates their reporting to advance an agenda and shape opinions. This deleterious trend has given rise to fake news and an utter collapse of trust in the media. Each side has their own news, so it’s practically impossible to discuss any issue when everyone comes with distinctly different premises.

There was a time Americans could escape politics in entertainment, but then entertainers became activists. Despite their talents, certain actors and musicians became hard to watch after they took pains to poke half their audiences in the eye. Already in 2003, Laura Ingraham criticized this annoying development with her book “Shut up and sing.” Ingraham’s point was we love your work, so please let us enjoy it without your condescending lecturing. Americans don’t look to entertainers for moral or political counsel. They resent it.

Ultimately, sports was the last refuge from politics. The fans at any game did not know one another’s politics; they all came to only cheer on their team. Any city or state team would win a championship and Democrats and Republicans shared their joy and stood shoulder to shoulder to celebrate their sports victory.

Colin Kaepernick arguably started this pernicious decay of collegiality and unity with his silent protests against the flag of the United States. Regardless of his motives, he introduced dissension into the sports realm and sowed division among fans who previously found and enjoyed common ground on the gridiron.

Kaepernick caused considerable consternation within professional football, but now comes Megan Rapinoe, the disgruntled LGBTQ activist who plays some professional women’s sport. Kaepernick roiled football, but Rapinoe rolled women’s soccer right off the world stage. This narcissistic thief literally stole the spotlight from the Women’s World Cup. She shafted her team and slighted women’s soccer. Hardly anyone is talking about the tremendous achievement of the American National Women’s Soccer team winning the World Cup. All the coverage is about how Rapinoe despises President Trump, disdains America, and vulgarly declines any invitation to the White House.

Everyone and especially Rapinoe have forgotten, she played for the “American” team! She and her teammates were representing all Americans, so it is only proper to be recognized by the leader of all Americans. And by the way, if Rapinoe had not played for the American team, no one would know who she is. We care about the team’s accomplishment, but we don’t care about one team member’s politics.

Her baneful disrespect for the office of the president is acutely petty, but even worse she is making sports partisan. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer giddily joined her destruction of decorum by inviting her to Capitol Hill. So does that mean athletes can declare a party and only be honored by their party? What happened to teamwork? Will some go to the President and others to the Speaker? This is plain silly.

Rapinoe has done a great disservice to women’s athletics, but she has also severely damaged civility. This is not about her and her politics; nor is it about President Trump. It should be all about the American Women’s Soccer team’s tremendous victory and American’s pride in their achievement. Aided by media hyenas, Rapinoe high jacked their championship for her grievances. But much worse, she has deprived Americans of the opportunity to enjoy unity and come together as one people in celebration of a great championship untainted by politics.

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” 1 John 2:19


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