ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.
Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.
Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”
The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:
One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”
Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:
Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.
These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”
Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.
As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.
Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.