In a brilliantly written essay, the author takes us through years of activism by Black athletes. Starting with Carlos and Smith's raised fists in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games through the more recent kneeling by Kaepernick. Most importantly, the author deconstructs the rhetoric around the reactions to these public protests and critiques the frequently alluded unifying attribute of sport.
The essay frames sport as an optimal space for legitimizing rivalry without romanticizing it. Most notorious is the call for sport as a space to preserve contest, not unity. Although the author acknowledges sports' ability to unify, it cautions against using it unquestioningly as a unifying agent at the expense of healthy democratic dissent and the pluralism that defines the United States. Finally, it makes a case for activism in sport, such as disrupting the national anthem, not as a threat to unity, but its illusion. An illusion that is more threatening to democratic health than the activism itself.
Butterworth, M. L. (2020). Sport and the Quest for Unity: How the Logic of Consensus Undermines Democratic Culture. Communication & Sport, 8(4-5), 452-472. 2167479519900160.