Posted on March 24, 2016

Obama Exhibition Game Is About More Than Baseball

Entertainment

Political elections bring out the worst personality traits in politicians.

In recent months, the American electorate has been exposed to candidates spouting off regarding certain principles that should have drawn scrutiny and backlash.

Donald Trump uses vitriolic hate on a daily basis to retain his hold on the limelight in order to further his campaign. Ted Cruz throws out hyperbolic statements via Twitter and press conferences that demean certain demographics and ethnic groups. The two of them scrap at each other along with democratic candidates to sway the public to join their respective camps.

Hate speech appeals to many Americans. Trump and Cruz recognize Americans are angry with the established system and they use that dissatisfaction to play up the hate and sway voters. Sadly, it is working.

On Tuesday a baseball game was played, but it was not just a run of the mill spring training game. The Tampa Bay Rays traveled to Havana, Cuba to take part in an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team, the first exhibition game played on Cuban soil in over 20 years.

Since the Cuban Missile Crisis, which marks the closest humans have come to all out nuclear warfare, there has existed a caustic relationship between both sides.

The decision to play the game was met with mixed reactions. Some applauded the move, believing the game symbolized the beginnings of a major turning point in the relationship. Others saw it as cowardly, saying the United States was letting the Castro regime win, and that we as a nation were perpetuating the atrocities the Cuban people are exposed to on a daily basis.

To add to the drama of the event,  over 30 people were killed Tuesday in a terrorist attack in Brussels which ISIS quickly took credit for.

Despite the attacks, President Barack Obama chose to attend the game in Havana.

Enter Ted Cruz.

In a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Cruz said that Obama’s choice was a mistake.

“President Obama should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or president Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels.”

Well, which is it?

If he had gone to Brussels, President Obama would have been criticized for leaving his citizens. If he had stayed in the United States, he could have been chastised for abandoning his role as a humanitarian. If he had chosen to do either of those things and skipped the game altogether, the Cuban government might have taken his absence as a personal affront, further damaging the United States’ relationship with the Castros.

Attending the game was the correct move.

Richard Attias, a Moroccan businessman once said, “Sport is a great equalizer that can build bridges, transcend borders and cultures, and render even the fiercest conflicts temporarily irrelevant.”

The game needed to be played. Obama needed to be in attendance seated next to Raul Castro. ESPN took the air time to discuss the plight of the Cuban people. Those who tuned in were made aware of the blatant ignorance of human rights taking place in Cuba.

Following the game, a protester halted the post-game show and within seconds was swarmed by unmarked police car. He was grabbed by the neck, dragged away and thrown into a car for speaking his mind.

The game will be talked about for years as an event that might aid in mending our relationship with Cuba and possibly kick start a more holistic approach to enable Cubans to seek those rights, and secure a higher quality of life.

For that reason, President Obama was in the right, a baseball game was played, and it was paramount that he was in attendance.

Ted Cruz had his moment, but Obama had a more important one. He chose to attend a game in Havana, take in America’s pastime and attempt to build those bridges and transcend borders.

Photo courtesy of: CNN

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