Activism From Professional Athletes

Where Are the Jocks for Justice” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier took a look into Adonal Foyle’s battle to change the current political system. When most athletes were spending money to rebuild playgrounds or schools, or visiting sick children in the hospital, Foyle was running a grassroots group called Democracy Matters. Democracy Matters wanted to educate children about politics, push them to vote, and bring pressure to change the current political system. Foyle clearly wanted to make a change in society and earned a lot of praise for his battle against the political system. However, not all professional athletes have been given the same praise.

In 2003, in the midst of the conflict between the United States and Iraq, Steve Nash, an NBA all-star, wore a shirt that read, “No War. Shoot for Peace.” Nash was trying to be an activist and suggest change in the world. Nash clearly spoke out that he felt in 2013, violence should no longer be used as a means of conflict resolution. However, many sports columnists responded poorly to the attempt by Nash to state his political views to society. Even fellow athlete David Robinson, a former naval officer and NBA player, spoke out against Nash. I found it interesting that Nash was just trying to suggest a change in society, but was ridiculed. Foyle and Nash are in the minority of athletes who have expressed political views while in the public eye as a profession athlete. I believe athletes should be free to express their political views and suggest a positive change in the world.

Recently, members of the St. Louis Rams have chosen to express there views on the Ferguson Trial. The St. Louis Rams walked out to the field with there hands up in the air. This has been used as an image for hands up, don’t shoot in the midst of the Ferguson protests. The players on the Rams clearly felt that the officer Darren Wilson acted inappropriately and was racial profiling African Americans. Immediately following the protest by the Rams, the St. Louis police department spoke out in anger. The police department was angered that the Rams staff was pressing the police force to offer extra protection for players; meanwhile members of the Rams were acting out against the officers. I believe the police officers should not have spoke out agains the Rams. Although they are professional athletes and on national television, they still have the right to express there political opinions. The Rams players wanted to influence change and put an end to racial profiling. Athletes are the center of attention and should be supported for being an activist because it can lead to positive change in society.

This recent incident with the St. Louis Rams was perfectly timed with the reading “Where Are the Jocks for Justice.” Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier brought up many interesting events where athletes have taken part in activism, but also times where they bit there tongue and avoided speaking out. I think the main point that they wanted to address is that athletes are role models and they should be encouraged to campaign for social or political change. Athletes have chosen to avoid activism in order to avoid attracting negative attention on them. However, they should not have to worry about that. The St. Louis Police Department should not be discouraging the use of free speech. Owners and general managers should not hold political views against a player in contract negations. I hope the St. Louis Rams start a new trend in professional sports where athletes speak there views and take part in activism: speaking out for political or social change.