Last week, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Cuba in an unprecedented trip to watch Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban national team at the Estadio Latinoamericano. The last time that an MLB team was in Cuba, it was when the Baltimore Orioles played the Cuban national team in 1999, making this game the first one in 17 years to be played between an MLB team and a Cuban team. The Rays beat the national team 4-1. The score did not matter though, because this game was about more than just two teams playing one another. The importance of last week’s game is reflected in who was sitting in the front row behind the netting at the Estadio Latinoamericano. President Obama and Raul Castro sat side-by-side to watch the baseball game unfold.
This game was a mark of continued efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Baseball is a popular aspect of both American and Cuban culture, which makes it an excellent facilitator for relations between the two countries. President Obama even commented on the significance of the game stating that sports “can change attitudes sometimes in ways that a politician can never change” (sportsbusinessdaily.com).
President Obama’s remark is exactly what PeacePlayers International works toward. Sport can be a powerful tool in bridging divides between people, cultures, and countries. Whether it be baseball, basketball, or any sport in between, sports have the power to bring people together.