SBD/November 6, 2012/Sports in Society

Taking A Stand: The Debate Over Whether Athletes Should Mix Sports And Politics

James (r) is one of just a few athletes to express his political stance
Last night’s edition of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s “Chronicle Live” featured a discussion of whether “sports and politics mix.” The S.F. Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli said there is “really no upside” for athletes to express a political opinion or stance, because “you’re going to be ticking off half the country.” But he noted that more athletes will start to speak out politically because “there are many more venues for them to speak out.” Political strategist Roger Salazar said, “The more secure an athlete is, the more likely they are to go out and start doing a lot of this political work.” The Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius said the athletes today “see themselves as a brand.” Nevius: “They're not just athletes anymore. Endorsement deals are so important. They see themselves as someone who’s going to be a public figure.” But as a public figure, “what’s bigger than the election right now?” Salazar said campaigns will seek out an athlete’s public endorsement especially when a race is “as tight as it is right now.” Salazar: “They're going after every undecided voter, and if an athlete can turn the few extra folks to their side that they really want, then they're going to go for that.” Meanwhile, Salazar said when it comes to team owners, “especially when it comes to campaign contributions, they're very pragmatic and they’re very astute about how they give money” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 11/5).

LEBRON NOT AFRAID TO SHARE VIEWS: FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com's Chris Tomasson reported Heat F LeBron James "isn't shy about" making it known that he is "once again voting for Barack Obama for President." James said, "I've been second guessed. They're saying it's bad for the brand. If I feel like I want to support someone, then go for it." James said that he "carefully researched Obama before he voted" in '08, and he has "done that again this time." Tomasson noted Basketball HOFer Michael Jordan famously said he was not supporting a Democratic candidate because "Republicans buy shoes too." But James indicated that he was "not ... afraid as an athlete to take a stand." James: "I just think it's about knowledge if you know what's going on. I've always said I feel like it's important for me to do it because that's just who I am." Tomasson wrote, "Regardless of who you're for in the election, it at least is refreshing to see James not afraid to make a stand" (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 11/5).

SAINTS ALIVE WITH POLITICAL DISCOURSE: In Baton Rouge, Ted Lewis noted Saints CB Nick Hixson is the "leader of Team Romney" in the Saints locker room, and he "made it his mission to convert as many of his teammates" before today's election. Hixson said, "I don't understand some of these guys. I thought there would be more conservatives in here." Lewis noted DE Will Smith "usually leads the Team Obama side of the discussion." Former Saints LB Scott Fujita in '08 was the "most persuasive liberal voice." LB Scott Shanle said, "Scott had his facts right and made strong cases. Will just throws out stuff all the time." Regardless of political leanings, S Roman Harper said, "There are more guys into this election than the time before. I know I've really gotten into it and see what I could learn" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 11/5).
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