We currently live in a world where you can reach every person you know through some form of social media. Whether it is Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, opinions and information are never hard to find.
Naturally this social revolution has extended to professional sports, where some of the most image conscious celebrities in the world can be found. In recent years, the ways in which these athletes use their thousands of followers and national audience has raised headlines.
The NBA is home to mega stars such as Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Derrick Rose. During last year’s Eric Garner scandal (he was wrongfully choked by a NYPD police officer) it was these exact basketball players who decided to use their national platform to comment on the incident. Virtually every African-American NBA player donned shirts that said, “I can’t breathe” – a quote that you can hear Gardner said during the surveillance video.
The question here isn’t whether or not Garner was treated to an injustice – I think we can all agree that he was – but rather whether or not these athletes should use their platform to voice their opinions.
I turned on ESPN to watch some basketball and get a reprieve from the constant Garner coverage that had monopolised the news. To see the players wearing those shirts during warm up was an unpleasant surprise. These players earned their money and their fame through basketball, not social movements. Ultimately, they are being paid so fans can watch them play.
Not only are they abusing their social power, but we also have to look at the hypocrisy that these athletes are displaying. After all, Derrick Rose who was one of the first to wear the shirt, isn’t exactly a shining example of morality. After a NCAA investigation, it was determined that Rose paid somebody else to take his SAT test for him. Due to this, the entire 2007-08 season for Memphis University had to be forfeited.
Rose isn’t the only one with a questionable past chiming in. Lakers star Kobe Bryant also wore the shirt, and is notorious for being an unapologetic jerk, and has been investigated for rape charges. Similarly, Wade has a longstanding divorce problem with his high school sweetheart. The point is, all three of these stars have used their notoriety to display their social and political beliefs, yet their questionable pasts give them no right to do so. If we should be listening to what these athletes have to say politically, then they ought to be trying harder to be role models in other aspects of their lives
These athletes are being paid millions of dollars to play sports. As a fan I do not want to be forced to swallow their social opinions while trying to enjoy the game.
If they want to voice their opinions, write a book. Keep the basketball game on the topic of basketball.
They have no right to use their platform to voice their opinions.
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