Dear sports: Stick to sports – Miami Herald (blog)

This one is going to anger a lot of people so you are warned.

I don’t care if you are a liberal. I don’t care if you are a conservative. I don’t really want to hear it.

If I want to hear it, I’ll ask. (I’m not going to ask because I don’t give a rip).

If I want to hear it, I’ll get myself to a venue that addresses politics and social issues — places like CNN and FOX — and gauge the vitriol and deception and strife at a time of my choosing.

But since that’s not what I’m interested in hearing, seeing, being educated about when I tune in to a sporting event, I get more than a little vexed when somebody I just want to see play a child’s game is forcibly trying to send me a message about something else.

So, yes, count me a member of the stick to sports club.

Elect me president of the club if you want. Call me names for wanting my sports programs to do what they promise and, by God, stick to sports.

It’s sad that in 2017 America that’s a controversial stance.

And, yes, here come all the complicated enlightened people who think I’m an oaf because as a citizen of this embattled planet I must be eager to swallow every social justice message ever conceived by someone who is aggrieved or otherwise has an opinion to share. And since I’m not getting that opinion where it belongs because I don’t attend rallies or watch CNN, they’re going to force feed it to me while I’m simply trying to enjoy a game.

So fine. Call me names because you’re smarter than me.

Think less of me because on my free time, when I’m simply trying to decompress from the stresses of daily living — stresses caused by politics and social agendas and the economy and rogue actors sullying every corner of our culture — I do not want to consider your friggan’ social message.

I just want to relax.

Why is that a problem? Why can’t you super smart, genetically superior folks understand this?

If I’m at a stadium sitting at seats I bought or I’m watching on TV, I want to get what I bargained for and nothing else.

Nothing else.

Nothing.

Your message gleaned from the left or the right is an imposition. It is not welcome.

I am not embarrassed to say this. I am not apologizing to anyone.

I believe athletes, be they liberals or conservatives, should stick to sports when they’re playing. You’re there to win the game. That’s it. That’s all. So do your job.

I believe sports journalists, be they liberals or conservatives (there’s like 12 conservative journalists in America), should stick to sports when they’re working. You’re there to cover the game. That’s it. That’s all. Do your job.

(About once a year I get pulled into a political mess and I hate that but I recognize that is not ever my mission).

So, yes, stop with the social justice protests. You’re not going to convince me to march to your drumbeat by playing while I’m eating a hot dog and watching football.

Yes, stop with the nationalistic shows, too. I have to admit, I’m always impressed by a good flyover and it makes me proud the American military has those planes capable of delivering any country back into the middle ages if necessary.

But I will happily do without the show of force if it means I get to watch …

The darn football game.

Or baseball game.

Without a political message up in my face at any point during the contest.

Look, NFL teams did away with benedictions, invocations and prayers of any sort years ago because some people complained those “offended” people.

So if you can remove God from the program, you can certainly remove a C-130. Or the kneeling football player. Or clenched fist Olympian. Or whatever else is not sports.

If I want to see planes, I’ll go to an airshow. If I want to see a protest, I’ll attend a march or a rally.

And now that you think I’m an out-of-touch dinosaur, I have news for you and the leagues that dominate the American sports landscape:

There are a great many people who believe as I do. There is a segment of the sports watching public that wants to turn on a game and, amazingly, just get a game.

Not a protest. Not a parade. Not a concert.

Simply a sporting event.

And here’s a warning: That segment of the sports watching audience that doesn’t want to see athletes preach or protest is out there in great numbers. And some are turning away from the NFL and NBA and any other distraction when that distraction becomes political.

Don’t believe me? It has already happened to other entertainment.

Check out the Emmys, whose ratings have been declining in one form or another for five years.

Somebody at some point decided that shows meant to celebrate a fake world of Hollywood or music or Broadway needed to be infused with political opinion and social messaging by actors or artists. And in doing that, those shows alienated a lot of people who either didn’t agree with the messages or didn’t want to hear messages in that forum.

Movie box office takes have been declining for some time and this summer was a disaster with takes down 15 percent. Some people will tell you that’s because the amount of good movies was down this summer.

And I will tell you it’s because a segment of the population has seen actors, especially in the last couple of years, become politically active during the presidential campaign. There must have been a dozen Hollywood fund raisers for the Clintons. And some actors told you join the resistance movement.

Jennifer Lawrence, who makes $20 million per movie, blamed President Trump for hurricanes and attacked climate-change skeptics. You know what happened next?

She is the subject of an alt-right boycott.

Yeah, if you want to run a successful business, don’t alienate any of your customers.

That’s what sports fans are. They’re customers. They are the reason athletes make all that money. If fans don’t buy tickets, if they don’t buy apparel, if they demand refunds of their DirecTV packages, the sports that rely on revenue from those financial arteries begin to bleed out.

I have great respect for Reshad Jones, who was asked this week his opinion of President Trump saying offensive things about NFL players. Jones took the high road.

“I’m really not worried about the President’s commenting and all that’s going on right now,” Jones said. “I’m here to play football and help the Miami Dolphins win football games.”

Amen.

Jay Cutler, and coach Adam Gase were similarly asked and both swatted the questions away with ease.

“That’s something I don’t get into,” Gase said. “I’m worried about coaching the game.”

I don’t know if Gase, Jones, Cutler and others are liberals or conservatives. I don’t care. I care they’re smart enough to understand the reason anyone is asking them questions is because they work in the NFL.

And the NFL is a football league. So they’ll happily discuss football anytime you want. That’s it. That’s all.

Will that disappoint activists who want everyone to complain about something at all times? Probably.

But by staying on message, NFL people such as Jones, Cutler and Gase are not alienating any of their fans. They’re making sure football sticks to football.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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