I love it when guys like Michael Michaels III Jnr. (adapted name) leave comments like: “your* so dumb! Stay out of politics. Your* a golf page.” It’s like mate relax. I get that it must be tough your sister wants to break up and “stay friends” but don’t take it out on me.
Whether you agree with us or not, sports and politics are inextricably linked. Since the dawn of professionalism people like Jesse Owen, Mohammed Ali and Carlos Delgado – the list is endless – have used their sport as a vehicle for political expression. You’re living in cloud-cuckoo-land if you underestimate the vast political influence of professional sportspeople.
Like many before him, Rory McIlroy is more than just a sports star. He hails from Northern Ireland, a country with a tumultuous history that continues to affect the 1.8 million people who live there. So piss off Michael Michaels! We’re always going to give air time to his opinion because it matters.
“As the question will inevitably go “he’s a golfer at the end of the day, what business does he have getting involved in politics?” However, rational human beings have opinions and if he has the kind of profile that means an awful lot of people are going to listen to him, it’s rather difficult to always keep your opinions to one side.”
Rory has never hidden his dismay at Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. With 55% of Northern Ireland voting to remain, people are starting to ask questions like will there be a hard border? Will Sinn Féin be able to veto Brexit altogether? What of the possibility of reunification?
Here’s the situation explained (sort of):
The future of a United Kingdom is something McIlroy is unsure of: “If I’m Northern Irish, what’s better? To be part of the UK and not be in the EU? Or to be in a united Ireland and still belong to the EU? People are going to have to weigh that up,” he said.
It’s quite clear that Rory is prepared to go against the grain. To be a clear Democrat in a sport that is overwhelmingly Republican is always a risky show. Sportswriter and author John Feinstein noted that not one member of the 1993 American team voted for Bill Clinton. A recent Sports Illustrated poll showed that the Tour was the most conservative sport in America. For Rory to position himself away from this ideology is very interesting.
With #Brexit and the way the US presidential race is going…. Can we take a mulligan on 2016??
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 24, 2016
“This is the first year I have really got into politics and I have seen, from following the US presidential election, how people want to become secure and protected against the volatility of Isil and suchlike. That’s the big reason Leave won the day,” he said in an interview with the Irish Independent.
No doubt several readers will have a problem with this which is very frustrating. Whether you agree with Rory or not, it’s interesting to see a player with the conviction to stand up for what they believe. It’s certainly a grey area; should players keep their mouths shut knowing that their influence is inflated without political merit? Who knows.