Thoughts on “Ethical Fandom”

Sports teams are owned by rich assholes. Rich assholes tend to support political assholes like Donald Trump. Fans and media personalities often admonish players and other fans to “keep politics out of sports” but don’t expect the same from team owners. An ugly reminder of this fact surfaced on Wednesday night with the news release that Trump campaign donors are planning a weekend retreat in Chicago, a city not known as a bastion of support for Donald Trump, ending with a reception at Wrigley Field ahead of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals thanks to the participation of the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs.

While Donald Trump has feuded with the Ricketts family in the past, they, like other wealthy Republican Party supporters, eventually fell in line behind Trump in order to protect their financial interests.

The latest news about the Ricketts family’s efforts on behalf of Trump inevitably led for calls for fans to quit supporting the Cubs in order to cut off the family’s revenue stream. However, the Ricketts family chose to purchase the Cubs precisely because a sports franchise is an ironclad source of revenue that can be used to further the family’s business interests, and the Cubs are one of the premier sports franchises in North America.

I, like many others, am disgusted by Donald Trump and his presidency. However, I do not feel it is my place to tell others not to support the Cubs because of the owners’ assistance to the Trump campaign. I doubt there is any sports franchise owner in North America who has not supported the Republican Party or Trump in some fashion, so it is virtually impossible to be a perfectly ethical sports fan who has not inadvertently financed the manufacture of a “Make America Great Again” hat.

Furthermore, fans often consider support of a team to be part of their identity. The decision to no longer support a team can be akin to divorcing a partner for a person who is very emotionally invested in their favorite team. It’s not up to me to tell people to make that decision. There have been times where I have felt fed up with MLB to the point where I have considered no longer watching, but since I have already spent hours of my life writing about and promoting baseball in my own small way, I don’t want to give up. I also believe letting right-wing jerks drive me away from enjoying sports and my favorite team would be giving them a victory – they don’t want people who aren’t like them at games or enjoying life at all. I’m not going to let the bastards get me down. Fan how you want and be loud about what you expect from leaders in professional sports.