Phil Mikelson in Saudi Arabia settles debate about the role of politics in sports: ‘They should be educated’

Phil Mikelson in Saudi Arabia settles debate about the role of politics in sports: ‘They should be educated’

As athletes across America continue to earn more power in their respective leagues and pursue influence off the field, the relationship between politics and sports has evolved.

Golfer Phil Mikelson’s move to LIV Golf in 2022 with support from Saudi Arabia has raised eyebrows given Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses. During an interview on ‘Life, Liberty & Levin’, ESPN host Stephen Smith used Mikelson’s decision to make the case that there is a hypocritical double standard in sports.

“It’s a lot easier to hold someone like Phil Mickelson, Gary Player or others accountable. But our government does business with these people,” Smith told Fox News host Mark Levin. “If you hate it so much, and you find it so abhorrent to do business with these countries as individuals, why isn’t our government held to the same level of accountability?”

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The LIV Golf Boston Invitational opened at the International Golf Course.  Phil Mickelson practiced on the putting green.

The LIV Golf Boston Invitational opened at the International Golf Course. Phil Mickelson practiced on the putting green.
(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy responded to Smith’s argument on ‘The Big Sunday Show’.

“Governments have to deal with each other around the world, and I don’t think it’s wise to equate governments with how people deal with these regimes now. I think it’s a completely fair criticism of our government, making terrible decisions,” McCarthy said. “But athletes, just like everyone else, if they’re going to speak in public, they should be educated about what they’re talking about.”

Many have argued that they do not want to mix politics into sports. On the other hand, many argue that athletes, who play a major role in shaping American pop culture, have a responsibility to use the platforms they are given.

McCarthy’s co-host, Johnny ‘Joey’ Jones, spoke to the latter.

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“If you’re a viewer sitting at home, and you’re not saying anything, or you’re not upset by some of the things you see on the headlines at Fox News or CNN, but you’re really mad by Phil Mickelson. , then maybe you need to have a broader view of how the world works and understand that things like this are happening all over the world.

Mikelson is not the only athlete to come under fire. Lebron James and players around the NBA have been criticized for refusing to be more critical about the league’s relationship with China. James, in particular, was outspoken about the issues of race that plague America.

LeBron James and Enes Kanter

LeBron James and Enes Kanter
(Reuters photos)

“I have no problem with athletes competing in foreign countries as long as it is legal. But I have a problem when athletes take advantage of the opportunity they have in America while going abroad or on American soil, which restricts that country itself. It gives them the freedom to make millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in their field,” said co-host Katie Pavlich.

Some athletes continue to speak out about global injustices – and continue to face the consequences. Former NBA center Enes Kanter Freedom, who was called out by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, revealed that the Turkish government had recently offered a $500,000 reward for his capture.

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However, Smith said the influence of athletes is too great to stay quiet on the sidelines.

“With today’s modern athlete, the money that is put out there, the relationships that are fostered between them and advertisers and sponsors, they certainly have a right to speak about the state of affairs in our society,” said Smith. “They just need to know what they’re talking about, and they need to be fair-minded when they do so.”

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