Everything is political these days.
From Gillette’s ‘Best men can be’ to Nike’s ad with Colin Kaepernick. Celebrity boycotts of the Grammys and Super Bowl halftime show. Then during the Super Bowl, Canadian union, Unifor, aired a scathing ad on GM in the midst of layoffs. Even Heritage Minutes aren’t immune after the Conservatives used the branding for a Liberal parody. The ad has since been taken down.
With all this political fever, it’s not a surprise that athletes chose to use the 60th All Native Basketball opening ceremonies on Feb. 10 to share their message — “Wet’suwet’en Strong”.
Just as the “No LNG” demonstration took advantage of the same platform in 2016, here we are again in 2018, same sentiment, different slogan.
The tournament committee has it right. Vice chairman, Eva Spencer, chastised the players for mixing politics with sports. They’re not focused.
But what lacks focus are the rules.
The fundamental principals set by the International Olympic Committee forbids any kind of demonstration or political ‘propaganda’ on Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
In the four pages of rules and regulations for the All Native Basketball Tournament, there are rules against wearing uniforms that advertise alcohol logos, but nothing about forbidding players or coaches from wearing political statements.
“The All Native Tournament provides an opportunity to demonstrate the strong cultural pride of our First Nations people,” as stated in the first paragraph of the rules.
This could be interpreted to be in support of a First Nations anti-pipeline movement that has swept across British Columbia and parts of the country in the past year, with Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and now Coastal GasLink.
In Dec. 2016, the committee strictly said in a letter to the Skidegate Saints that “The 2016 political agenda of ‘No LNG’ blue T-shirts and banners will not be tolerated by the ANBT committee this year,” and that “Players, coaches/managers wearing political agenda garments will be asked to remove or be disqualified from the tournament.”
The result was a pink “No LNG” T-shirt protest held outside the civic centre, keeping the opening ceremonies and the games focused on culture and sport.
We asked for this week’s web poll: Should protest and politics be part of sporting events? Within a couple hours of posting this web poll, 345 people voted and 75 per cent said “Yes”.
But since this show is run by the All Native Tournament Committee, they need to tighten the reins by adding a rule or two to set the boundaries.
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