Do athletes have a moral obligation to stand up for social issues?
Society looks at athletes as heroes, icons, role models, and larger than life figures. We aspire to be just like them and want our children to be just like them. Athletes are a blessed with a tremendous opportunity, in that they have power and platform (sports) to shape and influences the lives of many. Athletes command a great deal of attention and respect, which can be used for the greater good. However, with great power comes great responsibility.
Athletes choosing to stand up for social issues is a controversial topic that illicit different responses from different people. Some would say, yes it’s there duty or responsibility to stand up for what’s right. Others would say there athletes and entertainers who get paid to entertain. It’s not apart of there job description. Sports is just a game and should never mix with politics.
There are certain moments in sports where it transcends beyond just being a game. The Mets vs Braves game right after 9/11 attack is symbolic of that. This wasn’t just some baseball game, it was a rallying cry, a sign of hope and healing. Mike Piazza’s home will forever live on in baseball, sports, and New York history. Sports has tremendous power in that it has the ability to bring people together from all walks of life, and that should never be lost in the minds of athletes.
Muhammad Ali wasn’t afraid to stand up for issues affecting society. He took a stand and refused to enlist in the Vietnam War. LeBron and his Miami Heat teammates choose to stand up when Trayvon Martin was killed. Derrick Rose wore a “I can’t breathe t shirt during warm ups in support of Eric Gardner. Now compare that to Michael Jordan who is equal in stature to LeBron and Ali. Jordan never really stood up and took a stand for issues going on in society at the time. This is something that he has been often criticize about during and after his playing career.
Athletes standing up for social issues should be a choice rather than an obligation, but it should be a choice worth taking. If a particular issues resonates with you, then as an athlete you owe it to yourself and others to voice your opinion. It has to be something that you want to do and you also have to feel comfortable doing it. Society expects a lot from its athletes, and at times they deliver on those expectations and other times they don’t.