December 12, 2014 Louisville KY (Analyzed Sports)
The Role of Sports in Society
When I was growing up as a kid I enjoyed watching highlights of NBA players, like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Tracy McGrady. I found myself often times outside in my backyard practicing their moves hoping to one day play in the NBA. Obviously I wasn’t good enough to make it that far, but those athletes really meant a lot to me in my childhood.
Now as I have gotten older and really involved into the sports media world I have realized that the stress of being an athlete is unbearable. They have to answer all of our sometimes idiotic and personal questions knowing that there’s a possibility that their words will somehow be twisted around. Also the fact that there is so much attention to them means athletes practically have to be perfect in nearly every aspect of their lives.
The ironic thing I have noticed in my short time being heavily involved in the sports media world is how much sports networks tend to “blow up” the negative things athletes do. When Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and a host of other NFL players got in trouble earlier this year, everyday those stories would be brought up a lot on some media outlet. It got so bad until the NFL started the “No More” campaign that addressed domestic violence and abuse in general. Most fans agreed with the NFL and players being involved, feeling like the NFL actually cared about those social issues.
However the new controversial subject in social issues is the “I Can’t Breathe” campaign by NBA Players. For readers who are unaware, “I Can’t Breathe” comes from the words of New York citizen Eric Garner. Garner was choked to death illegally by a New York police officer and told witnesses/other officers that he couldn’t breathe and moments later his breathing stopped. Although Gardner’s death is on video, the NYPD officer who choked him wasn’t indicted for any charges.
NBA Players like LeBron James, Derek Rose, Kobe Bryant have all been seen warming up in “I Can’t Breathe” shirts to show their respect to Eric Garner. Ironically a lot of people have given the players backlash for the shirts and some have even went on to say that athletes shouldn’t be involved with social issues like what happened in New York.
The question I want to ask readers is why shouldn’t athletes be involved? When subjects like the Jimmy V Foundation, the No More Campaign, Breast Cancer Awareness, Animal Abuse, athletes are encouraged to be involved in them and their sports leagues even get economic benefit from those causes. However when a situation like what happened in New York comes up athletes should be quiet?
Honestly at the end of the day what everyone who isn’t a professional athlete needs to realize is that they are STILL HUMANS and CITIZENS OF THE U.S. Even though these athletes like Kobe and Lebron have millions of dollars they have families and they can be approached by law enforcement as well. Also the fact that they aren’t wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts to get paid or benefit their sports organizations economically shows that they are doing this because they care about their fans. They are wearing these shirts so that the millions watching their games will know that they aren’t ignoring what is going in the country they live in.
So although these athletes may not have the approval of everyone the “I Can’t Breathe” campaign is important not only for them to address but for the country to address! Shirts and Tweets may not be the best route, but it is a significant step to show fans who pay to see these athletes play that they haven’t forgotten about them. Lastly, athletes are dubbed “role models” to young children and Garner has grandchildren, I bet they are overjoyed that high profile athletes are remembering their grandfather.