The Age of the Athlete-Politician Almost Upon Us?

Will Leitch, writing for New York Magazine, posits and interesting premise: Is it time for superstar athletes to become politicians?

It would seem time, though. There has never been a time when sports and politics have been so inextricably intertwined. From the NFL protests — which not only drew Trump’s ire but came this close to pushing Beto O’Rourke past Ted Cruz last year — to LeBron James and Stephen Curry fighting with the president on Twitter to the equal pay fight with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to Big Macs for unpaid football players in the White House, there is nothing about sports that isn’t politicized anymore. And athletes have begun to realize the power they have. LeBron was one of several athletes who hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and will almost certainly do so again for the eventual Democratic nominee. Megan Rapinoe became a star at the Women’s World Cup as much for her statements off the field as her goals on it. Former WNBA MVP Maya Moore has actually put her basketball career on hold to dedicate her life to criminal-justice reform.

Sports is at the center of every major American issue at this particular moment, from class to race to #MeToo to militarism to labor relations. Simply by being a high-profile athlete, you have an identifiable political platform, whether you want it or not. Tom Brady has always gotten this wrong, thinking you can say nothing in the year 2019 and possibly get away with it. (Not standing for something is a stand.) Megan Rapinoe has a clear, easily understood, deeply compelling political platform already, right now, simply because of what she did and said during the 2019 World Cup. Who has a better rationale to run for president right now: Megan Rapinoe or Bill de Blasio? Who has more to offer the country?

Oh, I know the answer to that one.

September 18, 2019


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