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Race, politics divide Americans on sports issues

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Although some people may yearn for sports to be free of political or racial divisiveness, a new study shows how impossible that dream may be.

Researchers found that Americans’ views on two hot-button issues in sports were sharply divided by racial, ethnic and political identities. In addition, their opinions on topics unrelated to sports, like the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, also were linked to their beliefs about the two sports issues.

The study analyzed opinions on whether college athletes should be paid and whether it is acceptable for pro athletes to protest racial injustice by not standing during the national anthem.

The gap between Americans on those two topics was sometimes stark – there was an 82-percentage-point difference in whether people supported athletes protesting during the national anthem (a low of 13% to a high of 95%) depending on combinations of race, political orientation, voting intentions and beliefs about issues like BLM.

“Sports are and have increasingly become a central part of the culture wars,” said Chris Knoester, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“Sports are not a neutral ground.”The study, published online recently in the journal Du Bois Review: Social Science […]

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