We have tried to stay out of the political scene, knowing that politics aren’t our strong suit and remembering what our moms always said about never discussing politics or religion. But we, like so many of our favourite athletes and sport icons, can no longer stay quiet about what is going on. While everyone in sport often stay away from hot button issues like politics, this past weekend’s travel ban and the executive orders passed by President Trump cannot be overlooked by even the most normally tight lipped sport figures.
Canadians this week have been completely shaken by the fatal shooting of six worshippers by a terrorist at a mosque outside of Quebec City. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a lot of people coming forward to express their opinions and voice their concerns about where the political landscape is heading and how this will impact everyone, regardless of where you live, where you come from, and who you are.
Normally quite strategic in his media statements, Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) guard Kyle Lowry (@KLow7) has decided that now is the time to shake his previous image, and take a stand – and what a stand it was! When asked about his opinion on the US travel ban on the citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, Lowry was clear, “I think it’s bull—-. I think it’s absolute bull—-. Our country is the country of the home and the free. For that to happen is bull—-. I won’t get into it too deeply but, personally, I think it’s bull—-.”
While he didn’t stretch his vocabulary too far, it’s telling to have someone like Lowry who is normally very soft spoken and focused upon moving onto the next thing, take the time to comment on just how outrageous he found the executive order to be. He was even asked to repeat his feelings without including the swearing, but Lowry wouldn’t budge on his stance, stating that “It’s a real bad situation. It makes the country – I bleed red, white, and blue. I was born and raised there. I have always been taught to treat everyone the same. It’s a difficult time for my country right now and it’s sad.”
Lowry is certainly not the only athlete commenting on President Trump and his ban. Olympian Mo Farah (@Mo_Farah), posted a comment on Facebook that stated that on January 27th, Trump made him feel like an alien. He wrote “I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.”
Farah wasn’t the only athlete taking to social media to air his grievance with the travel ban. Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) quarterback Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) took to Facebook Live, denouncing the travel ban, and even suggesting that these “crazy 10 days” are a sign of things to come in terms of whether or not President Trump will even last four years in office.
NASCAR’s (@NASCAR) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr), meanwhile, stated “…my fam immigrated from Germany in 1700s escaping religious persecution. America is created by immigrants” echoing the feelings of so many across America and the world. Furthermore, the WWE’s (@WWE) Sami Zayn (@iLikeSamiZayn) tweeted “I can’t articulate how truly disgusted I am right now. #MuslimBan”. This sentiment, again, voices what so many around the world felt on Saturday; struggling to find the words to state just how frustrated and uneasy they were about the decisions that were being made in the United States (and how those will impact the rest of the world).
While we know that the sports world is separate from politics, the political climate has become intertwined with so much of the world news, including sports. It’s clear that athletes who normally stay out of these difficult conversations can no longer bite their tongues, instead choosing to voice their displeasure and stand up for what they believe in. We know that our opinions are our opinions alone, but it’s impossible to ignore these statements when they are made so clearly by such a diverse range of athletes.