In light of the recent political protests by professional athletes, many bloggers have declared that political activism has finally made its way back into the realm of professional athletics. With the St. Louis Rams’ protest of the decision in the Michael Brown case and Derrick Rose wearing a warm-up shirt that says “I Can’t Breathe” in protest of the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death, professional athletes are finally starting to become political activists, right? Wrong. It’s important to understand the distinction between a political statement and political activism when analyzing the actions of professional athletes.
A political statement is a single effort to promote political change that doesn’t necessarily mean the person has a long-term commitment to the cause. Political activism, on the other hand, consists of constant efforts to advocate political change over the long-term. While any political involvement by professional athletes is great, I argue that these particular instances are political statements instead of political activism.