How Politics Has Changed Modern-Day Sports

Sportswriter Dave Zirin counts the ways that political issues have infiltrated sports at every level

President Barack Obama is presented with a team jersey by the Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a ceremony at the White House after Super Bowl XLV. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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When I meet players, and I really respect their politics, and I think they’re courageous people—yes, I do root for them a little harder. Partly because I’ve gotten to know them, but also because I know how sports media works, that the more successful they are, the more people will hear what they want to say, and the more they can leverage this platform. So of course, I want people who are courageous and will use that platform to do more than sell sports drinks, I want them to have the brightest spotlight possible.

As far as athletes whose politics I don’t like, is it hard to root for them? I guess I’m grateful just to know what their politics are, and that they have spoken out. I’ve never actively rooted against somebody because of his or her politics. Even someone like Tim Tebow, I actually like him. I just happen to think he can’t do that really important thing that quarterbacks need to do—which is to throw a football.


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