sports and politics
October 7, 2019

Like so many things nowadays, it began with a tweet.

Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, expressed his support for the anti-Beijing protest movement in Hong Kong on the social media platform Friday; he quickly deleted the tweet, but the damage was done.

The Chinese Basketball Association, which is chaired by former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, announced Sunday it would suspend cooperation with the Rockets, and the team's partnerships with other Chinese businesses were also damaged. There was reportedly talk that Morey, who apologized, could lose his job. The Rockets are one of the most popular teams in China, a country that has fallen in love with the NBA, so Houston's ownership clearly values that market.

As does the league as a whole. The NBA released a statement Sunday evening explaining their stance on Morey's comments.

The New York Times also provided a translation of the statement the league sent to China, which was even harsher on Morey, calling his tweet "inappropriate" and acknowledging that he "seriously hurt the feelings of Chinese basketball fans."

The early reactions to the NBA's initial response were often critical, with several people arguing that the league was acting hypocritically, and that it has often ignored human rights abuses in China in favor of maintaining its fan base there. Tim O'Donnell

August 11, 2019

Two American athletes now face possible discipline after they staged silent protests at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, this weekend.

Fencer Race Imboden took a knee on the medal stand as his U.S. men's foil team celebrated gold on Friday. He said he was "honored" to represent the U.S. at the games, but the country's "multiple shortcomings" concerning racism, gun control, and President Trump, among other things, caused him to sacrifice the moment on the stand.

Meanwhile, hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a fist during the playing of the Star-Spangled on Saturday after she won her event.

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee was not thrilled with the displays. Mark Jones, the organization's vice president of communications, said in a statement to ESPN on Sunday that refraining from political demonstrations is a term of eligibility on the Olympic circuit. "In these cases, the athletes didn't adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC," he said. The USOPC is reviewing what consequences may result.

Still, political protests have occurred not infrequently at international sporting events. Perhaps most famously, U.S. track-and-field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the Star-Spangled Banner at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to highlight racial tensions in the United States at the time. Tim O'Donnell

July 10, 2019

The U.S. Women's National soccer team, fresh off their second consecutive FIFA World Cup title, has been having a bit of fun the last couple of days. Their victory lap culminated with a ticker tape parade in New York on Wednesday.

But parade, fun as it looked, also provided some political moments. While U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro — who mispronounced Golden Boot winner Megan Rapinoe's name — was speaking during the parade, a chant of "equal pay" broke out.

Cordeiro received some applause for saying "all female athletes deserve" equal pay. Rapinoe then reportedly took to the podium and, perhaps in a savvy move, said she thinks Cordeiro will do the right thing, which could set the stage for an intriguing conclusion to the lawsuit leveled against U.S. soccer by the women's team.

New York City Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio, who managed to snag a spot on a parade float alongside the players, made it clear where stands where he stands on equal pay. He even started his own chant, and said he'd make equal pay the law of the land in his hypothetical administration.

But it wasn't just about pay stubs. Rapinoe also referred to the wider political climate in the U.S., telling the crowd "we have to be better. We have to love more, hate less." To the chagrin of her fans, though, she also said she was too busy to jump into the presidential race. Tim O'Donnell

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