First it was San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Then it was Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Then it was Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. And NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. And Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.

Each day, the list of coaches and athletes offering political opinions grows longer.

On Sunday, former Tigers outfielder Aubrey Huff chastised anti-Donald Trump protesters through Twitter.

“Time for something called a job,” he told them.

(Which is interesting, because Huff did little more than strike out and sit on the bench during his short stint in Detroit.)

On Monday, Earnhardt used Twitter to support the idea of immigration. New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett said he’d skip the White House ceremony if his team won Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Call it the merging of politics and sports, where athletes and coaches and the journalists who cover them have stepped into a roiling new world.


Because it’s ugly out there. Which might be the only point most of us can agree on at the moment. Which also means you’d better get used to it.

Get used to hearing coaches condemn immigration policy. Get used to hearing players standing up for what they think is justice. Get used to seeing political references in the Twitter feeds of your favorite sports writers and bloggers.

Old demarcations are falling quickly. Sports no longer are played in an escapist bubble.

Not that they ever fully were. It was just easier to pretend.

Because most athletes didn’t want to risk endorsements. Most coaches didn’t want to risk support from ownership. Most sports writers were taught to cover games and practices and leave things at the gym or the field. Better to keep readers that way.

Occasionally, a transcendent figure came along and demanded we take a look at the outside world. Now, it’s not surprising when we hear Lowry tell a group of reporters that Trump’s (temporary) immigration change is: “Bulls—.”

Lowry simply is responding to our new public life, a cauldron of rage and resentment and fear and anxiety. A stew wrought from the disintegration of traditional norms, when a president uses his social-media platform to upend decorum.

Or to brag. Or insult. Or bully.


A word, by the way, that Popovich used to describe Trump after he got elected in November. Naturally, that description didn’t go over well with Trump supporters in central Texas.

Stick to sports, they told him.

Ah, stick to sports, a phrase we hear often these days. Too often, if you ask me, because sports is just reflecting back where we are. And where we are is unnerving for a lot of people.

“Scary stuff,” Van Gundy called it. “Fear-mongering and playing to a certain base of people that have some built-in prejudices that aren’t fair.”

Van Gundy, of course, has been pilloried by a segment of Pistons followers on social media. So, too, have some of the reporters who cover the team and wrote about his comments this week.

Stick to sports, they say.

But they can’t. And shouldn’t.

Because sports crossed the intersection into political life. Whether football players protesting during the national anthem or basketball coaches speaking out about a president’s words or a NASCAR driver talking about immigration.

Earnhardt, by the way, might lose fans on the racing circuit this summer because of his tweet. In fact, his time line is full of folks who already have said he went too far. Which is too bad, because all he did was remind his followers that America is America because of the folks who keep arriving at our shores.

His tweet, and the reaction to it, tells us a lot about the mood of the country as we settle — or unsettle — into the beginning of the Trump regime.

Stick to sports?

Thanks, but no.

We’ll stick to sports and everywhere it leads. After all, if a reality television star can sign executive orders, then a coach can talk about immigration.

Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.