It’s Super Bowl week and instead of focusing on the players competing this weekend, we’re asking athletes about politics.
Why are we asking New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady about his relationship with President Trump?
Professional athletes are granted a platform as public figures, but it is their choice whether to use it or not. Athletes are in no obligation to share their views on political issues just because they are a public figure. And you cannot use their views to tarnish their image.
The beauty in sports is that it is free of politics. The game is not about foreign affairs, and national law so stop making it about it.
The complex relationship between sports and politics have often found the attention of the mass media. For example, Muhammad Ali refusing to serve in the United States military, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos holding their fist up for black power in the 1968 Olympics, and in more recent history, Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner throughout the 2016-2017 season have all been seen as national heroes.
But if Muhammad Ali was not considered the greatest boxer to ever live, would he not be another person refusing the ethics of the draft? If Smith and Carlos did not medal in the Olympics, they would not have that stage. And if Kaepernick had not been considered the leader of the new era quarterback at one point in time, kneeling would not have raised any debate.
The media has been grilling Brady for not sharing his views, and declining to further comment on his relationship with President Trump. It is the media’s job to find these stories, but they cannot force athletes to answer questions and cannot condemn them for choosing not to.
This week does not come every year, although it may seem like it for Brady. Super Bowl week for most football players comprise the highlights of their careers, and need to focus on the game more than anything else in the world. They should not waste any thoughts about expressing their views on politics to the media.
Their actions were made by their own instinct. Brady is under no obligation to share his political views, no matter how far off he may be.
What the media cannot do is tie in his political beliefs and use it to tarnish his career. In the public view, the media is now painting Brady as a Trump supporter above everything else he has ever done in sports. Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, regardless of his political views. And in this moment, Tom Brady the football player should be the focus.