Sport and Politics – Mix or Nah?

With the upcoming plebiscite hitting Australians’ mailboxes soon, there has been a significant increase in brands announcing their stance in the issue of marriage equality. Whether it be a marketing move to attract clients set in the same stance, or to openly support those already working within their company, there is a certain group of people who have agreed that sports and certain brands have no right getting politically involved in these things.

With the Coke dropping a rainbow cans and a banner by their Kings Cross billoard, NBL publicly support gay marriage and a Sydney Swans flying a rainbow flag next to their own at their next SNG game, it’s becoming more and more obvious who is on what side. Ignore the line in the sand, this is issue is Moses and we’re all part of the Red Sea right now.

Sam Newman recently slammed the idea of the rainbow flag flying at the AFL game, also openly stating that politics had no place in sports as it was where people went to get away from politics to begin with. He continue on without stating his own stance on the matter as he did not want to discuss it but he does believe that having big corporations announce their stance on such issues alienates those of a different opinion, making them afraid to voice theirs fearing to be at the mercy of the loudest side.

Now, he does have a point, the core of freedom of speech and freedom in general is that one is allowed to their own opinion, no matter how outlandish, screwed up, hypocritical and so on it is. But, should major brands and corporations shy away from the political spotlight and not stand up for those who are very likely working for them and are affected by whatever is going on? How can a supposedly inclusive and accessible thing like sport shy away from the politics without ignoring it and all the issues and discrimination that come with it? If the NBL didn’t say anything and didn’t help their players being discriminated against then they’d be technically siding with the ‘no’ side. If they did stand up for those affected they would be technically on the ‘yes’ side. So in the end, they would be siding somewhere eventually so is there a point to staying away from it all Newman?