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Sport is more than just a game in America

Sport is more than just a game in America
Jackie Robinson: The First African American to Play in the MLB | Mini Bio | BIO

The Fulcrum is committed to connecting pop culture to democracy. That includes music, theater, poetry and so much more.

As we think about the many aspects of American culture that are connected to democracy, we would be remiss if we did not include sports.

No one can deny the important role sports play in American society. But perhaps more important than the game itself are the values of justice, fair play and teamwork that emerge when sport is at its best.

Perhaps more than any other social institution in America, sport has contributed to racial and social integration.

One prime example is the role Jackie Robinson played in 1947 as he broke Major League Baseball's decades-old "color barrier" when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It is almost unfathomable today to think that "America's pastime" excluded people of color from playing. There is no doubt that Robinson impacted more than just the game of baseball, as his outspoken activism in his later years helped set the stage for the burgeoning civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Robinson was a man of courage. As he was taunted and insulted with racial epitaphs he repeatedly stated that he was not concerned with whether people liked him or disliked him: "All I ask is that you respect me as a human being."

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His endurance at being "first," is honored one day every baseball season, when all players wear his number, 42. It's a tribute to a man who experienced the flaws of our nation through bigotry and chose to serve his community throughout his life. He was a team player.

There are many examples of how athletes have impacted our society and our democracy in ways that model the character needed to endure, offer support and be a good human being. Things far more important than the winning or losing of a game.

As The Fulcrum embarks on this journey of connecting American sport to democracy we want to hear your stories, your examples of sport connecting to democracy — whether by advancing social justice, economic rights or gender equality; placing the team above the individual; or honoring one's opponents.

There are so many powerful forces beyond the field or the arena. Which is your favorite? Do you have other examples? Please send your ideas to

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Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda and others on stage

Donald Sutherland (left), Paul Mooney, and Jane Fonda performing in an anti-Vietnam War FTA (Free The Army) show in the Philippines in 1971.

Stuart Lutz/Gado/Getty Images

This young GI met Donald Sutherland in a bygone era. RIP to an original.

Page is an American journalist, syndicated columnist and senior member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

News of Donald Sutherland's death at age 88 took me back to a day in 1971 when he was protesting the Vietnam War onstage with Jane Fonda and I was one of about 1,000 off-duty soldiers in their audience.

I hoped, in the spirit of John Lennon's anthem, to give peace a chance.

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Luke Combs, politics and healing our nation's divide

Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote about “The Great Divide,” Luke Combs' song written by Naomi Judd, Paul Overstreet and John Barlow Jarvis. I was moved by the tremendous response I received, and that article is still one of The Fulcrum’s most-read posts.

The lyrics are as powerful today as they were in November 2023:

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John Shearer/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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In my last writing, I discussed how Taylor Swift’s first involvement in politics (during the 2018 midterm election in Tennessee) was prompted, in part, by her harrowing experience in a sexual assault trial. That year Swift endorsed Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s opponent in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, Rep. Jim Cooper (D). It wasn’t an easy decision.

“I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions,” she wrote in an Instagram post, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”

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Laughter is the embodiment of depolarization.

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What role does comedy play in pulling us together?

It’s no secret that pop culture in America has amazing healing and connecting powers. Throughout history, we’ve seen how artists, entertainers, athletes and creators of every kind invite us into a space of transcendence that leads to connectivity. We see that when we join people together their energy can be harnessed for good, and then amplified and scaled.

Certainly comedy fits in perfectly. Laughter is the embodiment of depolarization. Just consider that in order for something to evoke laughter, it has to have the capacity to both hold tension and release tension at the same time. And so we invite you to join Bridge Entertainment Labs tomorrow at 4 pm Eastern for “What’s Making Us Laugh? What Role Does Comedy Play in Pulling Us Together — or Driving Us Apart?”

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