The Effect of Right-Wing Policy on US Sports: Is There Racial Tension?

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The Effect of Right-Wing Policy on US Sports: Is There Racial Tension?

The following is a piece which I have written for a college project, in which I was assigned to write about any issue or current affair which I thought would be interesting.

This is the first in a several-part series looking at the involvement of right-wing policy and the effect that it may or may not have on sports in the USA.

As an outsider living in the UK, it is somewhat striking to see that some of the right-wing speakers can air their opinions without any real restrictions or boundaries.

Without further ado, here is the introduction for my piece. Enjoy.

 

All seems to be fair in the world of sports: a level playing field where no one team or individual has a distinct advantage over the other, besides the talent level between the athletes. Sports is an expression in which there is no discrimination against anyone for any reason, or so it seems.

However, in the year 2010, we still have controversy in which politics and sports go hand in hand with each other. The world of sports is a key market that draws in billions in revenue each year, so with all that money involved in sports, it should be important to keep a clean image.

In the USA, sports fans have front row tickets to their teams. With modern stadiums and facilities, American sports fans are often deemed the most passionate in the world.

Just look, for example, at a city like New Orleans. Their city is coming off the back of the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, and now five years later their NFL team, the New Orleans Saints, are Super Bowl champions for the very first time in franchise history.

The Saints have sold out every single home game, including the 2008 game in Wembley Stadium against the San Diego Chargers, while the Saints' stadium, the 73,000-capacity Superdome, was shelter to around 40,000 people who were displaced during the aftermath of the hurricane.

Without clean water, power, and enough supplies, the city of New Orleans was put on high emergency evacuation as US military forces were deployed into the city. The stadium was flooded from field level and the outside roof damaged from the destruction from Katrina.

In the aftermath and in a destroyed, unstable city, the Saints sold out all of their tickets for the 2006 season, which was capped with a opening game on Monday Night Football against division rivals the Atlanta Falcons.

The reopening of the dome was celebrated with festivities including a free outdoor concert before fans were allowed in a pre-game performance by U2 who performed a cover of "The Saints Are Coming" and a coin toss conducted by former President George H.W. Bush.

In front of ESPN's largest-ever TV audience at that time, the Saints won the game 23-3 with over 70,000 in attendance in what now ranks as one of the most-watched events in the history of cable television, and they went on to a successful season, reaching their first ever NFC Championship Game.

The Saints fans are among the loudest and most loyal in the NFL, having sold out every single game since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

In the USA lately there have been several cases of questionable decisions in which people, coaches, teams, and players have fallen under the sword of the American public and most notably the press.

Some of the decisions made by these people may have nothing at all to do with politics.  While the Republican Party and its candidate John McCain lost out to Barack Obama in last year’s presidential election, the actions of other politicians within the party is somewhat questionable, leading people to wonder, is it the actions of these people that have an effect on the people of America and the followers of the Republicans?

Take, for example, one recent case involving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid made remarks previously in 2008 with regard to Obama which many people found very offensive. Reid's remarks state that he had described Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign as a "light-skinned African-American" with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.

Reid quickly apologised for his comments directly to the President, who made it clear that the "book was closed on this case."

Another example of comments made by Republicans towards Obama and black people comes from Michael Steele, who is black and the chairman of the Republican Party, who accused Democrats of trying to have it both ways.

"There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it's racism," Steele said with regard to Harry Reid’s comments previously.

Steele is not one to shy away from controversy. He has a brash personality and big ego, which is putting it lightly. He has come out with comments previously highlighting his "reverse racism" towards Obama and the black people of the USA in early ‘09 after Obama was elected President. He had this to say about the African-American people of America:

"This is why blacks everywhere should resist the Republican racist agenda. In a lily-white filled party, them bastards pick the one coloured to undermine Obama. It's sickening and only hurting themselves; go ahead and parade around with your token and bullshit with your party. Obama for President 2012."

As you can clearly see, his opinions are very shocking to many people, but one wonders, does this behavior and these opinions have an effect on their followers? Does that transcend down to the sports side of America, in which black athletes have dominated in the NBA [National Basketball Association] and NFL [National Football League], as well as other organizations?

In this article I will investigate different scenarios in which politics and the world of sports have had an effect on each other. I will look at the various incidents involving racism and controversy from people in sport and evaluate whether they are affected by the right-wing politics of Republican Party members.

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