Monday, December 23, 2013

Sport As Politics

Don’t let anyone tell you that sports isn’t political. Sports is always political.

1) Pussy Riot released – As I reported last week, Russia passed a political amnesty bill to deflect some of the stickier human rights issues that folks would raise during the Sochi Olympics. One could imagine the protests athletes would have staged. This is just one less issue they can raise.

2) Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks – Again, I believe that this release occurred in large part as a way to deflect attention from Putin’s putsches more than from the human rights violations. After all, Khodorkovsky publicly criticized corruption in the country. He financed liberal parties and opposition candidates - much to the displeasure of then President Vladimir Putin. In February 2003, he and Khodorkovsky had a heated televised debate. A few months later, he was arrested. It would be as if George Soros was arrested.

But given what he has said over the weekend, there are human rights elements that cannot be ignored.

3) Dennis Rodman is coaching a North Korean basketball team ahead of an exhibition on Kim Jong Un’s birthday. It seems likely his team will win, given Kim’s predilection for having things go his way.

4) A billionaire will get a new arena. Paid almost entirely by Michigan taxpayers. In bankrupt Detroit.