UFC strawweight contender Rose Namajunas said recently that communism is a motivating factor for her in the upcoming UFC 261 bout against Zhang Weili, UFC's only champion from China. Namajunas, whose family is from Lithuania, told an outlet that she has drawn inspiration from the documentary The Other Dream Team, and that the movie is a reminder of an anti-communism expression coined during the Cold War: "better dead than red."
Namajunas' comments sparked outrage in the media, the same media that refuses to question the NBA's business relations with the Communist Party of China. This surprises no one. Because it doesn't fit commonly used talking points originated by LeBron James, this is where the sports media draws the line with the mixture of politics and sports:
What is surprising, however, is seeing an athlete push back and refuse to apologize.
"If you're confused about any of my opinions, you can watch the documentary and you could get a good idea as to what my family had to go through, the reason I'm in the United States today, the reason that I do mixed martial arts, all of that stuff," Namajunas said Wednesday when Ariel Helwani asked her about the comments. "I'd probably have a really different life if it wasn't for everything in that documentary, how Lithuanians had to struggle with communism oppression.
"The reason that I brought it up and that I referenced it is because the reporter suggested I had animosity toward past opponents, and that's what maybe caused some motivation in those fights, and in this one there's no animosity so maybe there's a lack of motivation. But that couldn't be further from the truth."
According to Fox, Namajunas' parents escaped communist rule in Europe.
Namajunas did say initially that "Weili is red." That part could've been left out. Zhang Weili was born in China, that doesn't mean she supports communism.
Namajunas did clarify, saying Weili is the opponent and it's not personal. "She is just the person standing in the way of my dream. Namajunas went on to say Weili's background is why she fights, and she fights "for freedom."
"Better red than dead" and "better dead than red" -- the one Namajunas used -- were dueling slogans used during the Cold War. In essence, the slogans are opposite answers to the question of whether it's better to be dead than a communist. There are better ways to make an anti-communism statement than the phrase Namajunas used, which can be spun in different directions. That said, if you read and listen to Namajunas, she's a passionate fighter who doesn't support communism. She should not apologize for that.
As for the media complaining about injecting politics into sports, they are dishonest partisans. Now, mixing the two is wrong?