Fox News’ Laura Ingraham was very clear and concise about how she feels when athletes use their platforms to make political statements.
On her show, “The Ingraham Angle,” Ingraham bashed athletes like LeBron James, saying that she didn’t care to hear the political opinions of “someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.” She went on to say that James should, “shut up and dribble.”
Over the past year and a half, it seems like athletes and politics have been almost interconnected and intertwined. It is understandable that some people do not want political statements involved during the games. After all, a lot of folks use sports as a three-hour escape from the real world and do not want to be reminded of the problems going on in the real world.
But when the games are over, it is extremely important that athletes use their platforms to speak out on issues we have in society. In 2017, the NBA Finals received an average of 20.4 million views per game and regular season NFL games garnered 16.5 million viewers on average in 2016.
While not every player is going to go out and express political opinion and rhetoric, the ones who are more well informed— such as James, his former teammate Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant in the NBA and NFL players such as Chris Long, Lane Johnson and a number of other Philadelphia Eagles stars just to name a few— have and need to continue.
Because the likelihood that they are reaching an audience that traditional media is not is huge. They present positive role models for young kids and will likely influence them to be better people.
The different sports leagues are also trying to play their part in making the world a better place.
The NBA has a social justice initiative called “NBA Cares” which is “the league’s global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues.”
To that end, February was “Hockey is for Everyone Month” in the NHL, a month where the league “uses the game of hockey— and the League’s global influence— to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.”
We live in a polarizing climate, politically speaking, and these athletes are trying to be a solution to our problems.
They are not just people bouncing or catching balls or passing or shooting pucks, they are real people with real problems and it is their right as Americans to express them.