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The Influence Athletes Have on Social Issues

There is a lot of injustice in the world, and a lot in our country even more specific. We see all the time in the news people standing up and protesting for what they believe in. There are people that want to see change in the world for the better, and they are not afraid to speak out for the causes they promote. There is a vast diversity of people in our country, and a vast diversity of the people that take action against unjust things. Many different identity groups have had protests and rallies trying to spread a message to fix things that they think are unfair. This doesn’t exclude professional athletes. We see our favorite players raising awareness through kneeling for the anthem, or through interviews where they can help promote the social issues they want to fix.

Colin Kaepernick is the easiest example of this. The quarterback that was once starting in the Super Bowl has been out of work in the NFL since the 2016 season. As many of you know, Colin was seen sitting down for the national anthem during the preseason in 2016 with the San Francisco 49ers. This is what Colin had to say on his choice to not stand.

“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Colin Kaepernick on taking a knee

Here we have a citizen protesting an issue that he would like to see change in. Chip Kelly benched Kaeperick, and it’s not certain whether that was because he was sitting for the anthem, but Blaine Gabbert started 1-4 for the 49ers’ season. After the 2016 season ended, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Colin was told by the organization that he would have been cut if he stayed with the team. Kaepernick hasn’t gotten a job in the NFL since then. I think that has to do with more than football. It’s not helping that our president wants NFL players to be fired for using their first amendment right. Players have said that they would risk being released for kneeling, and standing up for what they believe in. 

Kaepernick isn’t the only athlete that speaks out. Lebron James has voiced his opinions on our society on many occasions, refusing to “shut up and dribble.” Lebron has said that he needs to use his platform as a world famous figure to promote issues he wants to change. James is influential to so many kids that will hear his message, and hopefully the next generation can take a page out of his book and elevate the messages he is saying. 

Lebron has teamed up with Maverick Carter, his business manager to give us The Shop. A show that sits down famous people, most of them being black, and giving them the floor to uninterruptedly talk about their experiences and life lessons they have learned. I have started watching clips from the show, and it fascinates me because some of the people providing really insightful stuff open me to a side of them I haven’t seen. It is really interesting to hear about the lives of people beyond their profession because there is very limited exposure to that if athletes didn’t take the time to share their stories.

Athletes can be more than athletes. We are used to knowing them for their physical power, and providing entertainment for us on TV. It is great that we’re getting to see more of a mental side to our pro athletes. They’re good for more than entertainment because they have a lot to offer on social subjects and they can use the platform that they have to deliver a message to a large amount of people. Nobody should be afraid to promote their beliefs, and the growing amount of awareness that sports has raised for real life issues has been amazing to see.

-Kevin Barnett

Follow me on IG @nolimit_kb 

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