If you have watched any level of sports news in the past week, you would have seen some sort of coverage of Major League Baseball (MLB) playing a friendly exhibition in Cuba. This month, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Cuban national baseball team in Havana. This is the first time an American team has visited Cuba since 1999 when the Baltimore Orioles went to Cuba to play the Cuban national team. While negotiations between the United States and Cuba are finally starting to get better after a long period of mistrust, tariffs, and animosity, there is still a certain level of hesitation to go forward with this new found friendship. When you look at Cuba’s track record of human rights violations and citizen dissatisfaction, American politicians may be wary about starting a new relationship with Cuba. Not only that, but many people who have ancestors who come from Cuba may not be ready to forgive the nation for the actions committed against their family members. As a new generation of American-Cuban politics is upon on, it can take friendly moments like these baseball games that can eventually lead to more positive relations between the two very different countries.
In order for tensions between the U.S. and Cuba to ease, there needs to be a certain of common ground for these two cultures to identify with. Since both of these nations are passionate about sports, specifically baseball, it is an excellent place to start a friendly relationship between their people. Sports has an opportunity to bring people together and show us that we truly are not that different from one another. While we may be separated by culture, borders, religion, or political ideology, we are all still people at the end of the day and we need to have basic respect for one another. Sports has a unique ability to unite people together and make people forget about their problems for a moment and focus more on something that can bring them joy and make them happy.
Baseball games like this are a great way to help show future generations that we can establish diplomatic relationships moving forward. While both countries have done terrible things to each other over the last few decades, the people who committed these atrocities are now figments of the past. The next generation of people coming up were not directly exposed to the negativity that occurred between these nations, and for us to move forward as societies, we need to leave the negativity in the past and focus on the future. While people who went through this period of negativity and are still around today are adamantly opposed to working with Cuba, but in order for us to move forward in this world, we must put the negativity of the past behind us and focus on making sure the people of the future do not have to deal with the same problems that we do today.
One of the most interesting parts about this baseball game was the team chosen to represent the U.S. When you choose the Tampa Bay Rays to represent you, you are choosing a team from the state of Florida, you are choosing a team from the state with far and away the largest Cuban-American population in the country. What this will do is help younger people, especially of Cuban-American descent, help form more of a bond with the country of their ancestors. People are more receptive to working with one another if there is some sort of commonality or bond between one another. When you choose a team that has a direct connection with the nation that you are trying to build a better relationship with, it is more effective in building that relationship than sending a team with no real connection with the country you are trying to get closer with. Both the American and Cuban communities have a deep-rooted passion for baseball, so showcasing what each country has to offer to the other in the realm of athletics is a great way to expose us to something new from a country that we do not know a lot about from a positive standpoint. Not only that, but as tensions ease, we will see an influx of Cuban players enter the MLB. When this influx happens, more communities will be exposed to positive elements of Cuban culture. Once these elements are put more into mainstream society, Cuba will lose the negative stigma it currently has in our country and people will understand that the things that make us different are arbitrary and that the actions of one’s government are not a true representation of the people that live there.
Overall, baseball has more than enough potential to be used as a tool of diplomatic peace. Sports has a long history of bringing people together and this will be no exception if were to be implemented more frequently in the future. Whether it is table tennis, hockey, or track and field, history has shown us that sports can bring people together when their societies tell them not to. Any two people, regardless of where they are from, what they believe in, how they see the world, can be bonded solely on grounds that they enjoy the same sport. Sports allows us to share beautiful moments with one another that can break even the strongest of rivalries. If we were to use something like sports to help us understand one another in a better way, eventually it will lead to a far less hateful and spiteful world. Sports will help us on a geopolitical level as people who want to work with one another will focus on the bigger issues at hand such as war, world hunger, and global warming. If we were to raise the next generation on a common foundation with sports as the mainframe of it, we will see much more change in the world and many more individuals will not feel like they do not have a voice in this world.