The Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen stepped in it when he said, “I love Castro.” This wasn’t the best thing to say in an area of Florida where Cuban refugees abound, there’s a place called “Little Havana,” and the Marlins were counting on “South Florida’s large Cuban-American population to help rebuild its fan base with the $634 million ballpark that opened last week.” Ouch.
The great thing about sports and entertainment is that they supply some relief from the mundane world. They’re a form of escape, a way to connect with some of the best memories of childhood. Most sports figures and entertainers didn’t talk much about politics, and we liked it that way. Also, we didn’t want to know what about their sexual proclivities either. People suspected that some Hollywood types were “light in the loafers,” but it wasn’t talked about.
Athletes getting political became a reality at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games when Tommie Smith and John Carlos got on the medal stand for the 200 meter event and raised their fists in what many saw as a “black power salute.” (They said it was a “human rights salute.”) They were shoeless but wearing black socks to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride.
“Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described ‘were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”
When “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, Smith and Carlos delivered the salute with heads bowed. The photo was on the front page of newspapers around the world.
The Miami Heat has come out with a bowed head “hoodie photo” that is being compared to the Smith and Carlos black power photo.
Of course, this wasn’t the first or last Olympic Games that got political. The 1936 Berlin Games under Adolf Hitler was probably the most political Games ever. We shouldn’t forget the 1972 Munich Games when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Then there was the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.
To be sure, some of these are extreme examples. Today, sports figures spout off about everything. Of course, they have a right to do it, but I suspect that most people don’t want to hear their political drivel. We read and hear enough about politics in newspapers, on the internet, and on the radio and TV. Enough is enough. Just shut up and play.
Then there’s the type of political causes they support and the way they support them. Sometimes they do more to hurt a particular cause than help.
It’s hard to watch a Tom Hanks’ movie anymore. His Leftist politics drives me crazy. Matt Damon is another one. These guys have a right to say anything they want, and we have a right not to see their movies. I didn’t need to know that the new Spock in the new Star Trek film is having sex with another man.