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Charlotte Talks: Athletes Refuse To 'Stick To Sports;' Intersection Of Sports And Politics

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Charlotte Observer/Jeff Siner
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The intersection of politics, sports and social activism. What happens when athletes don’t just stick to sports - we get reaction in Charlotte and around the country.

The firestorm of controversy over NFL players protesting the national anthem hasn't lost much steam, even after weeks of attention. It all started with Quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the playing of the anthem before an NFL game last year.

But recent remarks by President Trump about firing players who took a similar action spurred other players to protest, igniting controversy among players, coaches, owners and fans. Players around the league say they are using their platform to raise awareness of racism and police brutality against African-Americans.

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Credit Charlotte Observer/Jeff Siner
Local pastors and activists led a 'kneel in' protest outside Bank of America stadium in Charlotte ahead of the Panthers-Eagles game last week.

But some see it as unpatriotic and disrespectful to the flag. In a memo sent to teams, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said everyone should stand for the national anthem and the league will present a plan this week to help "move past this controversy."

This is hardly the first time politics and social issues have entered the sports arena. Professional athletes have a long history of refusing to just "stick to sports." Mike Collins examines the intersection of pro sports and social justice activism.

Guests

Dr. Daniel Grano - Associate professor of Communication Studies at UNC Charlotte. His research focuses on sport, media, politics, and race.

Bruce Schoenfeld - Sports journalist. He wrote about the history of athletes using their platforms for political protests in the latest issue of Esquire: The Justice League 

Kevin Blackistone - Sports commentator, columnist for The Washington Post, appears on ESPN; sports journalism professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.