Imrem: Sorry, fans, but sports figures are for real – Chicago Daily Herald

All you wannabe escapists from reality better get over it.

Sports figures are going to talk about topics other than sports, like Gregg Popovich did over the weekend by blasting Donald Trump.

Which revisits the question, is it OK for sports figures to be real people?

Of course it is.

No longer are sports events safe havens from the worries of the world.

Some athletes actually believe there are more important things than the games they play.

Even more important than a Chicago Cubs championship and the Chicago Bears’ quarterback.

This isn’t new. For decades a smattering of sports figures have been vocal about political and social issues.

Perhaps some of them were out there over the weekend rallying with wives and girlfriends in the women’s movement.

The differences now are the number of these athletes and the forums available to them.

It has become clear that people are people, period, whether they’re athletes or not and whether we like it or not.

It doesn’t matter that sports fans prefer that pro-Trump sports characters like Mike Ditka and anti-Trump sports characters like Popovich remain sports caricatures.

These men are going to say what they think about whatever they’re thinking and let us agree or agree to disagree.

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta recently attained attention with a controversial tweet that he would help pack the bags of those in Hollywood who pledged to leave the country if Trump became president.

But it was Popovich, the iconic Pop, who really popped off.

The San Antonio Spurs coach ranted against Trump and lamented that a man like him could be his president.

Trump critics must think, “Pop should run for the White House in 2020.” Trump supporters must think, “Pop goes that weasel again.”

Still others must think that sports figures in general should dummy up.

That isn’t going to happen.

Athletes like Colin Kaepernick are going to continue demonstrating against social conditions that they perceive to be unjust.

Other athletes are going to speak out against the Kaepernicks based on their own backgrounds, experiences and priorities.

Sports leagues like the NBA are going to continue moving prestigious events from places like North Carolina to protest state laws they perceive as unfair.

Others are going to say that sports leagues should stick to sports.

It’s America, isn’t it, and aren’t American beliefs as diverse as Americans are?

No harm-no foul on all this, unless you regret that another brick has been removed from what little was left of the wall separating sports from society.

This is the world we live in, and athletes live here, too.

What better place for a Kaepernick to peacefully protest than a game played before tens of thousands of fans? What better time for the violent to interfere than at an event witnessed by millions of TV viewers?

Big-time sports symbolize America as much as anything does. Disturb, disrupt and distract from them and the public can’t help but notice.

So, yes, it’ll happen.

Stark reminders of sports in the real world are the metal detectors we pass through to enter a stadium.

It’s uncomfortable when kids games played by grown-ups don’t provide escapes back to childhood.

We should be used to it by now.


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