WASHINGTON – Mary Pittman exits one of the glass doors of the arena after election day Wizards and NHL Capitals cast their ballots. The 77-year-old is on the verge of retirement: the stars and striped hat, a fan of the basketball team, autographed on the edge in fresh black ink.
“There’s no line,” Pitman said of the ballot on Tuesday. “No waiting. No confusion. No fuss.”
At a time when athletes are embracing unprecedented activism, refusing to listen to the baseless exhortation that a TV-speaking head “shut up and drop” created two years ago is a clear symbol of the team’s widespread use of stadiums and stadiums as a voter. Registration and polling sites.
If the United States’ playing fields were once far removed from politics – Colin Kipernik, whose 33rd birthday is Tuesday, saw his side kneel to focus on police brutality and systemic racism – the “former NFL quarterback” – they would have become fertile ground for that kind of advertising in 2020.
“Athletes, like anyone, deserve their opinion,” Pitman said. “But I don’t have to agree with that.”
And it’s definitely good, said Wizards Guard Ish Smith, who signed the Pitman hat.
“I loved and respected how I was … I was able to talk about some things that were uncomfortable in the past. It says a lot. It tells us how far we have come as athletes. And as we grow, keep growing,” Smith said.
“Sports and politics – usually people are on one side,” he said. “Now they are intertwined.”
True, that rebuttal was never uttered in messages on the courts and jerseys during the NBA season. Or the walkouts and others performed by the players of that league, from tennis to hockey. Or untying the black ribbon held by the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees before they were consolidated in the first game of the Major League Baseball season.
“When I played, players and coaches were never – probably never; rarely – asked about politics and voting,” said Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “But times are different. Our country is in turmoil, and everyone plays a role.”
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Tuesday, meanwhile, was that rare day in the US without scoreboards.
No competition. No exercises. None (except for the Ho-Hum NFL trade deadline).
Some of them are courtesy of the coronavirus epidemic – the 2020-21 NBA and NHL seasons are usually in full swing, but the delayed endings of their previous seasons have pushed them back – and some of them are due on election day. The NFL and Major League Soccer ordered everyone to take a day off. Similarly, the NCAA barred every top-division college team from playing or coaching.
Yet experienced the presence of sports.
Athletes can “encourage people to listen to each other, come together and come together, more than dividing,” said Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores. “I think it’s important for a lot of players. I want them to be good to this world.”
There were widespread, non-partisan “vote-getting” attempts by players, teams and leagues, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James’ “More Than A Vote” group, which came long after George Floyd’s police assassination. Minneapolis and Bryona Taylor in Louisville.
Athletes – and even former athletes, have made a point of letting them know which candidate, party or position they support: President Donald Trump’s endorsements tweeted by golf’s Jack Nichols and football’s Brett Favre; Rally speeches in support of Philadelphia 76 Cers coach Doc Rivers former vice president Joe Biden; Biden boost phone calls by Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan. In August, two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry appeared with his wife, Ayesha, and their two daughters in a video approving Biden during the Democratic National Convention.
It was an atmosphere that led Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beale, Tennessee Titans linebacker Will Compton, Nasscar driver Bubba Wallace and others to proudly note that they were voting for the first time. And led WNBA players Tamika Catchings and China Ogwomike to sign up as poll workers. And Oklahoma City Thunder Point guard Chris Paul went to the voting site in North Carolina with nearly 2,500 people. Security led by Rodney McLeod and some Eagles colleagues to promote the number of voters by traveling in a double-decker bus around Philadelphia.
Trump, who loudly condemned the peaceful protests of Copernicus and other players and inspired more athletes and teams than ever to skip the White House visits of traditional champions, is part of that enthusiasm.
“Sure, there are fans out there who offer pushbacks:‘ All we want to do is watch sports. We do not like to get involved in politics, “said Len Elmore, a former NBA player who teaches a Columbia University class.” Athlete activism and social justice. But the same people push back the notion of racism and extend it throughout our lives. “
In Cleveland, Ian Crawford, who wore the MLB Indians hat while voting at the NBA Cavaliers Arena – said it all for athletes expressing their ideas on big issues.
“Oh, I don’t know if LeBron is saying that, so I’m going to tell LeBron what to do,” but it brings up other views and makes it kind of a situation that makes you think a little bit more, “Crawford said. Are. “
Wallace, the only full-time Nasscar driver to be blocked, found himself on Twitter with Trump in July, which he described as “being thrown into a political fire” on Tuesday – and linked to his decision to vote. .
Wallace hopes to make athletes listen to themselves regularly.
“You can’t do it once,” he said. “It’s definitely going to continue. And I’m still encouraging other athletes to use their voices, using their platforms.”
As Warriors guard Damien Lee put it: “There are times when everyone is ready for it. It’s not a moment; it’s a movement.”
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