By Heather Nelson

“Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.” — Larry Bird

Sports, for me and many others, provide an escape. Lately, an escape has been much needed. Current events have caused a divide in our society. The divide appears on places like Facebook, Twitter, in the workplace — even at some dinner tables. 

I’ve seen a war on most outlets of social media. Most of my newsfeed(s) agree with each other and the trolls come out from under the bridge. Or there’s the people who don’t know where to draw the line? Do I post about these issues, even if these aren’t the kind of things I normally talk about on my profile? The recent issues have caused many to break from their normal pattern….

I classify myself as a sports writer. I’m passionate about sports and always have been. I tend to use my social media for reading about sports or adding to the sports discussion. Twitter has quickly become my first source for news, regardless of the topic. But more often than not, my newsfeeds tend to clog up with the same stories over and over… “Tom Brady vs Roger Gooddell” “How will the Red Sox do this season?” “College basketball rankings this week…” 

And then there’s the other kind of stories: President Trump signs an executive order or two. The Muslim ban. The wall. The war on the press. The women’s march…

I knew back in November this is what would happen. I knew back in fall 2015 that this could happen — that we’d elect a president, who, seemingly is causing more problems rather than fixing them. I know why we’re here, in this hole that we dug ourselves. It’s preposterous to think that each one of us didn’t have a hand in this. (Well, when I say us, I mean white folk.) 

I’ve tried to use sports as a distraction since the numbers decided on November 8 that would Donald Trump be our president. It didn’t work. I barricaded myself into a bubble of like-minded people for days following the decision. I slowly realized this would do no good. There is work to be done — hiding from it wouldn’t help. 

Distracting ourselves from the real world is like using coverup to hide a hideous pimple, but the pimple isn’t gone. Trump is the pimple growing on the face of America. He’s using his power in ways that will only hurt our country. And it affects sports, too. It’s seeped all the way into the segments of life we use/see as purely enjoyment. 

When Trump announced his Muslim ban, players from out of the country wondered if they’d be allowed to leave and re-enter. Look at the NBA and soccer in the US — among the countless other sports that know no borders. The NBA was left wondering if two of its players from South Sudan would be affected by the president’s travel ban. The MLS doesn’t currently have any players from the countries banned from travel. But it has in the past. 

“As Andrei Markovits, a University of Michigan professor who has written extensively about the intersection of American soccer, culture and politics, said, ‘The insularity of North American sports has been busted open, and it’s been busted open nowhere more than in soccer.'” — from the WaPo 

Basically, soccer in the US relies on open borders. With Trump as our president, our borders aren’t open.

Adding to the ban, Trump’s proposition of building a wall to block out Mexico could affect sports as well. It would likely keep Mexicans from coming to America. Not only that, but it’d put a definite strain on US-Mexican relations. What would we do without US-Mexico soccer matches? (RIP Dos-a-Cero???)  

Of course, these aren’t the only things in Trump’s administration that’d hurt sport. There’s a slew of things. And there’s the uncertainty of what’s to come. Basically, “sticking to sports” won’t cut it in these next four years.

There’s an intersection of American policy and sport. And there’s the reality that sport provides as a break from reality. We have to find the balance. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We should look out for our neighbor. We have to band together. We. Have. To. 

And it’s OK to need an escape. It’s OK to use sports as that escape. But don’t ask me to “stick to sports.” I can’t, and I won’t. 

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