The 1968 Olympic Black Power salute. Billy Jean King’s fight for pay equality. Muhammad Ali’s rejection of the draft. The intersection of sport and politics always existed. But according to UMN expert Douglas Hartmann, the current level of tension between the worlds of sports and politics is unprecedented in its scope:
"President Trump's unprecedented (and unusually profane) Twitter attacks on both individual athletes as well as the entire NFL and NBA leagues last week led to an equally unprecedented series of statements, gestures, interviews, and actions this past weekend. The events are blurring the lines between sports and politics, raising questions about the role of sport in combating racism.
"The President’s rhetoric seems intentionally intended to be divisive. The controversy is forcing white athletes, coaches, general managers, and owners—not to mention fans—to become involved and take sides when they previously were able to remain on the sidelines of such debates."
Professor Hartmann is the author of “Race, Culture, and the Revolt of the Black Athlete: The 1968 Olympic Protests and Their Aftermath” and is currently working on an upcoming publication titled, “Making Sense of a New Era: Contemporary Black Athletic Activism in Light of the Revolt of 1968.”
Professor and Chair of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota
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