The political madness is in full force as we inch closer and closer to choosing a new president of the United States this November. This week has seen notable names from the world of sports offer their endorsements for some presidential hopefuls, which has sparked the debate over whether or not athletes and sports figures should spend time sharing their political views. Curtis Granderson asks “why not?” and shared his views with Newsday.
“I think there needs to be a little leeway,” he said. “I mean, everyone else discusses it at the workplace. This is still a job. I even had, at a school visit, kids asking me, ‘What would you do if you were President?’ It’s a topic of conversation for everyone. So why can’t an athlete say something?”
Many athletes seem to prefer to keep their political views private, which is their right, just as it is yours and mine. Others choose to use their influence and notoriety to offer their endorsement for a cause or candidate they believe in, because this is America damnit and we should be allowed to endorse whoever we choose in whatever way we desire. Why should athletes be any different?
Some athletes have battled pressure to voice an opinion when it comes to the world of politics, and everyone handles that pressure differently.
“I think it’s been something that’s been discussed over the last few years, from the early part of my career to now: ‘Stay away from it,’ ” Granderson said.
He continued with an anecdote about Michael Jordan.
“I think Michael Jordan actually said something a long time ago like, ‘Don’t get involved in politics. You never win.’ But considering it’s such a big thing in our culture and shapes the way things are going to move and shake, I’m kind of confused why you can’t voice your opinion on how you feel. It’s just your opinion. You’re going to vote one way or another. You’re going to vote for this person or that person, so I don’t see anything wrong with speaking up about it.
“If I say I like apples but I don’t like oranges, you’re not going to beat me up for it. So why is it different to speak about politics?”
Granderson may have been referring to Jordan’s decision to not lend an endorsement to Harvey Gantt, a Democrat running for Senate in the early 1990s. Jordan opted not to provide an endorsement for business purposes.
“Republicans buy sneakers too,” Jordan, Mr. Nike, said at the time. Jordan was the anti-Jim Brown in that respect, but it just goes to show how every athlete will handle their political views in different ways for different reasons.
Former baseball players Paul O’Neill and Johnny Damon gave their official endorsements GOP frontrunner and emerging favorite Donald Trump. Trump also has an endorsement from NASCAR CEO Brian France and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer lent his endorsement to Ohio governor John Kasich in the days leading up to the Ohio primary. Meyer’s endorsement was rare because he has chosen not to share his political views in this way before.