JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Mississippi Humanities Council hosted a panel Tuesday night discussing “The Politics of Sports”.
Panelists were unanimous on one thing: the intersection of sports and politics shines so bright right now, thanks, in large part, to President Trump’s Twitter feed.
“His reaction to everything is so important to the discussion and how it kind of divides everything,” says Associated Press sportswriter David Brandt. “So I don’t really think you can talk about sports, or pretty much anything in this country, without the President’s response to it.”
“He divided folks on one of the only things they’re cohesive on,” says Jackson State political science professor Dr. D’Andra Orey. “And that is sports.”
Much of the discussion centered on former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Longtime Mississippi sportswriter Rick Cleveland likened Kaepernick to another former controversial sports figure.
“I think it’s quite possible that 25 years from now, we’ll look at Colin Kaepernick as a brave man who stood up for his principles the way Muhammad Ali did in the 1960’s," says Cleveland.
Cleveland believes Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL and its owners.
“He is not playing in the NFL for one reason and that’s because of his stance, or his kneeling, for the national anthem,” says Cleveland. “I don’t think there’s any doubt.”
Kaepernick is the face of Nike’s new advertising campaign, leading to Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher to say his department will no longer buy products from Nike.
But Tuesday, Jackson State announced a new apparel deal with Nike.
“Public Safety is pandering with respect to some racial innuendos there, by rejecting Nike,” says Orey. “But Jackson State welcomes it. It creates further and further racial divide. But you know, that’s Mississippi.”