Sports and politics are among the most popular interests of the general population. Though fascinating and fulfilling within their own spheres, these two very different topics don’t tend to make a good combination. There are a number of key reasons that sports and politics don’t mix well, such as:

Unnecessary distraction for fans

Whether it’s a player making an unexpected political gesture out on the field, or a sportscaster injecting political comments into their commentary, the reaction from fans is often overwhelmingly negative. Fans watch sports of their love of the game. By and large, they would rather not be bombarded with political statements that will take attention away from the thrill of the game.

Division among team members and coaching staff

Whether it’s an opinion about political movements, parties, or political figures, any given team will probably have players and coaching staff that hold to opposing views. If expressed openly, significant political differences can prove to be a source of disharmony for the team. They can even, in extreme cases, lead to players wanting to be traded to other teams due to feelings of hostility. They can also lead to a loss of respect a coach who openly expresses political views that his players find repugnant.

Can cause divisions among fans

Some fans may hold strongly to one political viewpoint while others hold just as tenaciously to the opposing viewpoint. When a player, coach, team staff member, or sportscaster openly declares their position, fans can sometimes take sides. The fans that back the same political views being expressed could start buying up apparel for the team, while the fans that grow disenchanted by the remarks could refuse to buy tickets or watch games in protest.

Can cause violence both on and off the field

During times of extreme political tension, it can actually be dangerous for players, coaches, or others associated with sports to be overly provocative in expressing their political opinions. A fight could break out on the field between players with opposing viewpoints. Or an angry and mentally unstable fan could threaten or attack a public sports figure due to their stated political stance. If you ever find yourself in this position, whether sports related or not, you should get a hold of your attorney and let them know if you’ve been threatened or attacked to find out what legal steps you ought to take.

Leads to potential job termination

Sometimes when a sports professional feels passionate about a political issue they’ll lose their professionalism and express their views in ways that are extremely offensive to others. Hasty words expressed on the air, in an interview, or on social media can come back to haunt the sports figure. If they’re bad enough they can even lead to a job termination.

If you’re involved in sports and politics, or if you’re a parent of a young person involved in sports that happens to have strong political views, it’s important to consider the ramifications of mixing these two interests. Though rewarding and fulfilling, mixing these two spheres can definitely lead to trouble.