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Hear Me Out...The constant collision of sports and politics

It’s everyone’s favorite combination, sports and politics! In terms of ranking the best combos in human history, it goes peanut butter and chocolate, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and at the top of the mountain, sports and politics. (I’m not sure which duo made people’s skin crawl more, Brady and Belichick or sports and politics?) Kidding, obviously, only one of those three doesn’t belong.

Worlds collide, and the sports world and political world have been smashing into one another on the regular over the last handful of years. This latest collision involves two separate events, last week was ESPN’s Dan LeBatard calling out his employer and Sunday, the Daily Beast put out an opinion piece that was about Yankee legend Mariano Rivera’s political beliefs.

Personally, I thought both weren’t much of anything but people love to be outraged, and it is July.

LeBatard took shots at Trump over the president’s racist tweets and the “Send them back” crowd fiasco. (The tweets were racist, let’s call a spade a spade. And they made no sense since those four women are Americans.) LeBatard then went on to lament ESPN’s new politics policy, which boils down to if there isn’t a sports connection, don’t talk politics. It’s a reasonable policy for a network that talks sports.

After LeBatard’s comments, the factions formed quickly and predictably. Those on the left praised him and those on the right vilified him. My take on it all is I’m with LeBatard and I’m with ESPN.

ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports and it makes sense to talk primarily sports but in LeBatard’s case, there is an exception to be made. LeBatard didn’t make those comments because it was another slow newsfeed day in July, he did it out of passion. His father and mother are Cuban exiles and have embraced America’s ideals since they had to flee their home. He’s seen all they’ve done to be a part of this country, and to see people chant “Send them back!” and insinuate that if you’re not on board with this president 100 percent, especially if you’re an immigrant, you need to get out, would be infuriating and insulting.

To me, I thought LeBatard was quite measured with his words. How many of us in the same position, with our parent’s honor and loyalty being questioned, would not have done the same but with a little more stank to it? Me personally, I think the FCC would still be calculating how big the fine was going to be.

Yes, LeBatard was hyperbolic with a few of his comments but they weren’t that bad, particularly, when you consider that CNN, MSNBC and Fox all have primetime programming centered around hyperbole.

As for the Mariano Rivera, Daily Beast deal, it’s such a nothing that it’s annoying to talk about. Here’s what happened, Robert Silverman wrote an OPINION piece for the Daily Beast that took shots on Rivera for his “far-right politics” by exposing his “hidden” leanings.

First off, this is an opinion piece and not a feature or report, so don’t take it seriously. Secondly, the use of “Far-Right” in the headline is a dead giveaway to SEO (search engine optimization) shenanigans; so continue to not take this opinion seriously. Every news website employs SEO shenanigans to sucker in readers, every single one. Thirdly, the use of “hidden” in the subtitle of this piece is a giveaway that what you’re about to read isn’t really a secret and was out there in the open the whole time. So there’s no need to take it seriously, at all.

All through Silverman’s column, he brings up things that Rivera has done whether it’s supporting Israel and, well, mainly supporting Israel. He does bring up that Rivera is religious, which is no surprise because Rivera has always been open about his faith, and tries to make him sound like a Revelations nut. My dad was a pastor and I’ve seen plenty of church people obsessed about Revelations. Annoying at times, sure, because those focused on Revelations do dabble in conspiracy theorist waters. But I don’t think that makes them bad people.

Silverman really dislikes Israel and that’s his big gripe not only with Rivera but any and every athlete that visits Israel. I think he despises Israel so much that I’m sure he can’t stand any color combination of blue and white.

There was also a group pushing back on the Silverman’s opinion saying this is why athletes don’t come out as conservatives because of harassment from people like Silverman. FS1’s Clay Travis even claimed that there were even more conservative athletes out there than most realize. I disagree with both claims. I think in large part, most professional athletes fall under not caring about politics or have never taken the time to think about it. There are certainly conservative athletes but their numbers probably equal that of those liberal-leaning athletes.

And spare me on the “conservatives athletes are afraid” to spout their beliefs, meanwhile, liberal athletes are given a free pass from personal attack. LeBron James is constantly raked over the coals (And not in a lighthearted way, it’s often mean-spirited) by conservatives when he talks politics and it always ends with them telling LeBron to stay out of politics.

And if an athlete leans one way or the other, does it mean I can’t like them out because their political beliefs clash with mine? Hell no, Tom Brady is buddies with Trump and a weirdo. (Not because he likes Trump, he’s just a weird dude. Watch TB12 and tell me differently.) But that doesn’t stop me from liking Brady and rooting for the G.O.A.T. The same thing with LeBron, don’t agree with all of his political positions but he’s still one of my favorite players to watch and root for.

Whether or not an athlete is conservative, liberal, libertarian or whatever, it shouldn’t matter. Most of us can agree we’re all the better when different points of views are out there.