The relationship between politics and sports has evolved as athletes across America continue to gain more power in their respective leagues and seek influence off the field.
Golfer Phil Mickelson’s move to Saudi-backed LIV Golf in 2022 raised eyebrows given Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses. In an interview on Life, Liberty & Levin, ESPN host Stephen Smith used Mikelson’s decision to argue that a hypocritical double standard exists in sports.
“It’s a lot easier to hold Phil Mickelson and Gary Player and other people accountable. But the government is doing business with these people,” said Smith, Fox News host Mark Levin. told Mr. “If you think that you are so abhorred and that as an individual doing business with these countries is so reprehensible, why don’t we hold governments to the same level of accountability?”
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Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy responded to Smith’s discussion of “The Big Sunday Show.”
“Governments all over the world have to deal with each other. I don’t think it makes sense now to equate governments with the way people deal with these regimes. Our governments have done, terrible I think it’s a perfectly fair criticism to have made the decision,” McCarthy said. “But athletes, like everyone else, should be educated about what they are talking about if they are going to speak publicly.”
Many argue that they don’t want to see politics mixed into sports. On the other hand, many argue that the athlete, who plays a major role in shaping American pop culture, has a responsibility to use the platform he is given.
McCarthy’s co-host, Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, spoke to the latter.
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“If you’re a viewer sitting at home and you haven’t said anything or been offended by some of the things you see in the headlines on Fox News and CNN, you’re really mad at Phil Mickelson. If , and perhaps, we need to take a broader view of how the world works and understand that this kind of thing is happening everywhere. Ultimately sports don’t have to get rid of politics I think.
Mickelson wasn’t the only athlete to be attacked. LeBron’s James and his NBA players have been accused of refusing to be more critical of the league’s relationship with China. James, in particular, is outspoken about the racial issues plaguing America.
“As long as there are no legal issues, there is nothing wrong with athletes getting involved with foreign countries. There’s a problem with subverting, giving them the freedom to make millions and hundreds of millions of dollars in that space,” added co-host Katie Pavrich.
Some athletes continue to speak out about global injustice and face the consequences. Former NBA center Enes Kantar Freedom, who has denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently revealed that the Turkish government had offered a $500,000 bounty for his arrest.
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But Smith said the athletes’ influence is too great to sit on the sidelines.
“With today’s modern athletes, the money they put out there, and the relationships they develop with their advertisers and sponsors, they certainly have a right to speak out about the state of our society,” Smith said. “They just need to know what they’re talking about, and they need to think fairly when they do.”