Currently, America is in the midst of returning to normal, at least in the sports world. With the wide dissemination of COVID-19 vaccinations and the reopening of a few states in terms of mask mandates, it’s safe to say people are trying to regain normalcy.

However, within this quest for normalcy, an old-age debate reemerges. Should politics and sports mix?

It’s safe to say, America has seen its fair share of protests for several topics. It’s also safe to say that many of these topics shouldn’t have even been made political. For example, look at the debate of whether masks were infringing on one’s civil liberties.

Unlike the infamous mask debate, in the sports world there are many sociopolitical aspects one needs to take into consideration. I’m specifically referring to race and gender. Arguably these social identities and the preservation of these identities should be considered a human rights issue. 

Unfortunately, that is not the society in which we live in. We live in a society that politicizes race and gender; therefore, I think there should be a rewording of this question: 

Should race and gender mix with sports?

The short answer? Obviously.

Many of America’s greatest athletes would not have even received compensation, recognition, or the ability to compete if we were to disregard race and gender.

Such disregard was the root of why many sports were racially segregated. And this same disregard continues to be the reason why most women in competitive sports continue to receive less recognition and monetary compensation compared to their male counterparts.

If we, specifically the audience of such talented competitors, were to say politics and sports shouldn’t mix, we wouldn’t even be able to witness the talent of such athletes today.

Look at some of the greatest athletes: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Muhammad Ali, Simone Biles, and the list goes on.

Many, if not all these athletes wouldn’t have even been able to compete for public consumption, if it were not for sports and politics mixing as it kickstarted many political protests that led to the consequent desegregation of sports.

So, if we as the audience, want to believe that sports and politics shouldn’t mix, then we should also be obligated to refrain from watching some of the greatest athletes of all time. I mean, they wouldn’t even be here without politics.

Furthermore, as a country that continues to have its plethora of sociopolitical catastrophes, I think it’s very bold for us to tell women athletes and athletes of colors that they do not have the right to speak up against injustice that directly affects them and people who look like them.

As we continue our journey to normalcy from this pandemic and these debates creep back into discussion, we must remember how most things came into existence. As a nation with a very checkered past, politics were essential into the progression of several issues. 

To deny politics in sports is to deny every minority athlete; something that seems to be impossible given those who are considered the greatest athletes of all time.