The Role of Entertainment and Sports in Politics

Like it or not, it is a blurred line that has existed for years and it isn’t getting any clearer. The influence on politics from the arenas of sports and entertainment is strong and intentional but what does that mean for the nation, the government, and our leadership? That answer may depend on where you stand and what side you stand on.

To be fair, both sides have used this card and both have at times done so quite well. One article that discussed this unique relationship between politics and entertainment and sports was titled “Politics Made Sports and Entertainment Lose Their Way.” Yes, there is some type of definitive connection between these seemingly different arenas and vocations but who is really influencing who?

If any sport combines athletics and entertainment, it is the Olympic games. That is also one of the first scenes of sport finding its political sway and voice. That scene was about a guy named Jesse Owens, a much younger America and one frightening Nazi regime. This would be far from the last time, however, that we would witness sport and entertainment court with politics.

One of those more recent courtships revolves around the “Kneeling for the National Anthem” issue. In all these cases, it seems as if it is the political using the platform and audience of sports – not the other way around. Maybe that aforementioned article would have been better titled, Sports and Entertainment Made Politics Lose Its Way?

At the onset, our initial question was about this being a healthy and good relationship. Not only for sports and politics but for everyone because politics is about just that, everyone. Is it smart or what taxpayers expect for their dollars, to have political agendas being promoted and to grandstand on issues using these platforms? It is fair to say that most of us would rather have those dollars being spent on research, creating smart legislation and working toward finding solutions for the issues they were hired to help resolve.

That isn’t to say that this relationship can’t prove to be useful, productive and helpful for everyone too. We have seen Pro Sport unite communities and a nation around a cause be it support for Katrina victims or social awareness. The NFL has made a pointed effort to bring awareness to abuse for instance. So when politics address social issues, for example, it has shown it can be a good relationship.

In the end, maybe it doesn’t even matter if the tail is wagging the dog or if the dog is wagging its tail. What matters is how that relationship is being used and why. Although Sport and entertainment are powerful, they are still merely tools.

We have seen candidates rub shoulders with icons of sports, music, and the big screen (or call it the other way around if you like) for influence. We have known the stars of sports and entertainment to be vocal and push candidates and policies. We have even witnessed those who have transitioned from sports and entertainment, into the world of politics. So how that power, and how those tools are used and manipulated will determine the role of entertainment and sports in the political realm. If that is a good thing or a bad thing, depends on you.

We would rather have our officials selected based on fact, not public opinion or popularity. Yet, we aren’t blind and none of us our children any longer. The truth is, public opinion, perception, and popularity have a great deal to do with who we vote for and the issues we vote on. Of course, politics without its relationship with the sport would result in a more honest and transparent political world. As we said at the beginning, ‘like it or not, it is a blurred line that has existed for years and it isn’t getting any clearer.’

Sports and entertainment have a role to play in politics. It that is the role of the winner or the loser, or the villain or hero will depend on who’s playing the part.