When you assume…

I don’t like to talk about athletes and their political viewpoints. I usually don’t care what they think when it comes to elected representation, but I feel as though a comment needs to be made in the wake of arguably America’s most divisive presidential election in modern history. This is not to comment on whether or not I agree with an athlete’s viewpoint, but rather to point out the nuances that are lost in social media.

I am a Chicago Cubs fan, and one of my favorite players in Jake Arrieta. I love his skill, his attitude, his demeanor. I get more excited for Arrieta’s starts than any other Cubs pitcher. Following the announcement of the results of the 2016 presidential election, Arrieta took to Twitter to express his thoughts and his displeasure with a certain attitude.

Looking past this tweet itself and directly to the replies and reactions to it, you’d think the guy put on a “Make America Great Again” hat and proclaimed his desire to build a wall. Is he a Trump supporter? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else based on this one tweet.

A huge problem with social media, Twitter in particular, is that nuance is completely lost most of the time. The brief text you’re allowed to send out to the masses is often misconstrued, usually in a negative way. You can infer that Arrieta supported Trump, but you don’t actually know if that’s the case, none of us do. Any sort of nuance to this statement is completely lost by tweeting this. If Jake intended to get a further message across with this brief tweet, then he made a mistake by thinking it would work in the form of a tweet. At the same time, shame on the rest of us for jumping to conclusions.

Every single time a presidential election comes up, people threaten to move to Canada. Without fail, it always happens. This year with Trump, in the past with Romney, with McCain, with Obama (ironically enough), with Bush and with many before them. How often does one actually follow through with these threats? I don’t have a number for you, although I assume it’s very small. Is it not possible that Arrieta was simply calling these people out, regardless of political affiliation?

As far as I’m concerned, that aforementioned point is completely plausible. I think it’s completely believable that Arrieta was simply holding people accountable for their claims (what an outlandish thought). It’s also very possible that he supported Donald Trump in this presidential election. Hell, he was born in Missouri and raised in Texas, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking. The point is that we don’t know, and it’s reckless to just assume something about the man based on this one tweet.

It’s the nature of our world today to freak out about everything, both positively and negatively. When I initially read this tweet, I thought of both scenarios which I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I thought both were reasonable then, I think both are reasonable now. But with the vitriolic responses to the tweet, it would make you think he had proudly expressed his allegiance to this year’s Republican candidate. Hell, Keith Law claimed he read the tweet as antisemitic, which, in my honest opinion, is just fishing for something to get pissed off about. Everyone needs to calm down about this whole scenario.

Maybe Arrieta supports Trump. Maybe Arrieta just wants to hold people to their brazen declarations. Maybe he feels something different than either of these. Whatever the case may be, it’s irresponsible to jump down the guy’s throat because of one tweet, in which he does nothing to directly indicate his political affiliation. Here’s the other thing: if you’re willing to stop cheering for an athlete on your favorite team because you hate that they support Donald Trump, you have every right in the world to do so, but I have a feeling you won’t have a ton of players left to support.

I don’t like talking publicly about my political beliefs, I try to keep that as private as I can these days. Generally speaking, I don’t care about the political affiliation of athletes. I respect everyone’s right to have political beliefs, but I think we all need to be careful about making assumptions based on one brief message, one in which any semblance of nuance is lost.

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