In the latest five-minute video for PragerU, sports journalist Jason Whitlock talks about the power of sports to bring people together, and how wokeness and politicization can hurt this effort.
Whitlock, the host of “Fearless” at Blaze Media, says that many people have long-recognized the power of sports to unite otherwise disparate people together. The best example of this, says Whitlock, was when the mixed-race South African rugby team won the 1995 World Cup, only a year after the formal end to apartheid in South Africa.
“Mandela’s presentation of the winner’s trophy to team captain Francois Pienaar stands as an iconic symbol of unity in post-apartheid South Africa,” he says.
Sports has also been a unifying force in the United States, such as when Jesse Owens, a black olympic sprinter and long-jumper, won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Only two years later, another black American, Joe Louis, scored a first-round knockout against Max Schmeling, a German heavyweight boxer.
“The Owens and Louis victories punctured Hitler’s Aryan superiority myth, unified black and white Americans in pride and celebration, and established Owens and Louis as America’s first black national heroes,” says Whitlock.
So how do sports have such a great effect on unity? Because winning and excellence in sports are colorblind. “Sports allow us to experience the power of pure meritocracy — the only way to govern sports, and the only way to govern life,” argues the sports journalist.
But Whitlock cautions that, just because sports have been unifying in the past, doesn’t mean they will stay so. He cites the decision of former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the national anthem.
“We all know what happened next,” says Whitlock. “Players across the NFL followed Kaepernick’s lead, kneeling, locking arms, and even raising fists during the national anthem. Then athletes from other sports joined in. Ironically, just as sports has the power to unite, we have discovered it also has equal power to divide.”
The entire sports world has “has immersed itself in victimization and left-wing radicalism” when it once celebrated victors, patriotism and colorblindness, he says. “This immersion threatens permanent damage, both to American sports and to the larger American culture.”
Whitlock also argues that other sports figures, such as LeBron James and those affiliated with Nike, have been making millions “off amplifying racial wounds” in a “cynical” yet “brilliant business strategy.”
But it doesn’t have to be this way in America.
“Ultimately, the fans hold the power,” says Whitlock. “They buy the tickets, the shoes and the merchandise. Watch what they do. If they accept sports as just another arena to fight political battles, you’ll know dark days are ahead. If they reject it, we’ll be headed back to a brighter future.”
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