Stop Lashing Out at Activist Athletes

By Keandra Davis

Sports are one of the key components that make up a large component of America, and are also the key component that brings in a great amount of income into not only the sports industry, but also every single person that makes up the sports industry.  Having this type of supremacy brings forth great advancements but also many setbacks.

For example, as athletes you’re constantly being supervised and held to meet certain criteria by your coaches and the world. When being a part of sports teams you’re almost looked at as a celebrity. If you have one mishap the entire world knows of this mishap and that athlete has to then create a solution for themselves in their situation. These athletes then also have to deal with any judgements or preconceived notions made about them by the majority of the world. And if being an athlete means that you’re a celebrity, during stressful times how do you then function while knowing majority of the world is against you? If there’s one positive thing that you can say about athletes as a whole, it is that they have true determination. Even when all odds are against them they still have to remain content, play the best that they can on the field and still have respect for any authoritative officials, because being an athlete is there job.

With being an athlete, respect for higher authority is something that is greatly valued in the sports realm. In other words, doing as you are told by your coaches and any other figures is one of the most important guidelines for athletes to follow. Having respect for your peers, advisors and coaches is an aspect that should be greatly valued. Without the respect for each other, you are unable to even function as a unit, and those who’d mostly suffer would be the players. However, the issue that arises is when players choose to have self-determination and make their own decisions. It is in this moment where it is an uprising for coaches, advisors, etc. because these players of sport teams decided to make a stance and speak up for something that they believe in. Given that all this going on in society and specifically in the black society, there have been too many instances where coaches, and the media have lashed out on players for speaking out against injustices and speaking for what they deem is right, and showing their support for their own or other communities.

We’ve seen examples of this with LeBron James at the game and during the halftime of one of his games. LeBron James got on one knee and held his fist up in a ball symbolizing black power and unity, and his support towards the black community. This raised a level of awareness on about the social issues affecting blacks in many black communities, and many lashed on LeBron James for taking this stance.

The world had such a great deal to say about James making this stance, but completely disregarded the very reason that he made the stance that he did. It wasn’t for entertainment, or to create an out roar against him, but a means to bring awareness to injustices in black communities, and means of showing that he supports his community and is for uniting these communities and creating great change within them.

Another instance of this issue is when the football players from the University of Missouri (Mizzou) chose to not play anymore games until the president of the university resigned from office. These players got so much criticism from the sports world and media for making a stance for justice and choosing to stand up for what was right.

Due to the president of the university lack of concern for the well-being of black students at Mizzou, it led these players to take action. Black students at this campus had been threatened that they would be murdered from hate groups such as the KKK simply because they were black. Racial statements and acts have happened countlessly at this university towards blacks and yet still the president refused to take any action towards these instances. If not even the president of a university who has a great deal of power would not act against these racial actions, well then who would? Knowing that as football players of this university, these members knew the amount of power that they have and they chose to utilize their power for the greater good.

In all of these instances, we’re faced with athletes choosing to make their own decisions, and sticking up for their communities or communities that they support. Why is it an issue that athletes are voicing their opinions about these issues, issues that they are passionate about? What is the strategy behind lashing out on athletes because they made a decision without the coach making it for them?

In any sports game, you have players and you have their coaches. Each team has one specific coach this will create and call their plays and the players follow these plays when called, and that is the flow of these sports. Specifically in football, you partake in this routine on a daily basis, someone above you calling the shots and you having to answer to them. Well if this is the case, why is it so mistaken for these athletes to make their own decisions? They are still people. You begin to ponder; wouldn’t the world rather have athletes who are aware of issues affecting others in society, rather than athletes who are least concerned with worldly issues?

Furthermore, it is for these reasons that athletes apart of major teams create foundations, youth centers, and charities so that they can give back to many urban communities and create the change that is needed that won’t be done unless they are that very change. Athletes can be used for their time, talent, and income that they bring in, but yet those in power won’t allow them to speak up when they deem fit. These players are confined to rules and subjected to strict guidelines that if broken can result if serious punishment. Can it be said that playing on sports teams is similar to prison?

In closing, if the players are the very reason for the increases of income for the coaches, then they should have every right to speak out against injustice and not receive out lash for doing just that.

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