Why Athletes are More Than Just Entertainers

“Stick to sports”. “Sports are an escape from everyday life”. “Can’t mix sports and politics”. 

These very real quotes make no sense, yet they keep coming up. Why should athletes stick to sports? Do you? I work in advertising full-time, yet I don’t stick to advertising. I talk sports, I talk politics, I talk whatever I want! Because I can. Everyone can! 

Politicians talk sports all the time. How many politicians have cancelled the NBA this year? How many people have claimed they are never watching the NBA again, only to keep commenting on the NBA? Point being, politicians do talk sports. Many politicians celebrate when their local teams win. Each league’s champion goes to the White House every year to celebrate. So this idea that sports and politics aren’t intertwined is simply incorrect. 

I always hear people say “sports are an escape for me”. Well, that may be true, but it’s time to face realities that sports are more than a distraction and a form of entertainment. Athletes are more than entertainers, they are people living in this world, trying to make it a better place.

Many athletes have now began to use their massive platform in hopes to raise awareness of social issues to make the world a better place. We as fans should listen because we can’t just escape these real issues facing our society. How has this become a controversial issue?

I have recently seen another frustrating quote about how NBA players took the night off on Thursday. “I wish I could just take the night off and get paid. ” Although, the players did not play basketball that night, they by no means took the night off”. They instead worked their butts off, collaborating with each other and several politicians and influences to discuss ways to take action and make progress on important social issues such as access to voting and police reform. 

Social media plays a big role in the problems we have. People hide behind fake avatars with nameless and empty profiles to spew racist and hateful tweets. Are they serious? Or are they just having fun trying to get a rise out of people. Either way, these hurtful tweets are part of the issue and lead to constant bickering. For example, “Black Lives Matter” is not political. It’s an idea that quite literally means black lives need to matter more than they currently do. Again, why is this such a controversial issue?

The media is also killing America. While I don’t think the media is the reason why certain schools cancelled their 2020 college football seasons (contrary to popular belief), I do believe the media can influence certain events since the Media controls the narrative. They will only report the part of the story which has the most shock value in order to earn higher ratings. They will report in a way that may skew actual events and influence your thinking to benefit their own agenda. What happened to journalism? Not reporting the full story in a non bias fashion, has only lead to panic and division.  

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week “It’s not the NBA’s job to solve the world, it’s the NBA’s job to be part of the world.” But yet, here we are. Lebron James, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala, the entire Milwaukee Bucks team and all of these guys looking to utilize their influence for positive and productive change. Doc’s right, this is literally the jobs of politicians, but god forbid they do something that might piss off their voters…

As Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman, among others, have recently taught us, life is too short. Before America can see change, we need to stop the hate, stop the fighting and respect those around us. I hope that everything that is happening now around the country, leads to positive change to the benefit of everyone.

I stand, or kneel, with those in favor of change! 

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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