Activism in sports becomes more popular

Controversy regarding athletes participating in political action grows

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ART BY Rae Gray

Even though the majority of people believe using activism in sports is necessary, there can be a lot of disadvantages that come along with doing so.

Callie Payne, Pop Culture Editor

The year is 2016 as the preseason 49er’s game comes on the TV. While the national anthem starts to blare through the speakers, Colin Kaepernick takes a knee, starting a nation-wide controversy.

Activism in sports has been a heavily disputed subject since the 1970’s. For over a century, athletes all over the country have tried to use their platform in ways to fight for equality. It has become more common for professional athletes to join in especially since the Black Lives Matter protests became a huge movement sweeping the country.

“If I was a professional athlete, I think that I would partake in this kind of activism in order to support my teammates and bring light to everything going on in the world,” senior Dylan Dang said. “I think that by allowing athletes to do this, we are allowing them to express their emotions and opinions on everything that is going on in this crazy world today. Especially after the summer that we just went through, it is imperative that we use our voices and speak out about social injustices and racism.”

According to Pew Research, 62% of Americans believe that professional athletes should speak out on political and social issues. On the other hand, 35% of people believe activism in sports is not at all acceptable.

“​I believe that athletes have a unique platform in which to express a lot of different things,” girls basketball coach Vickie Benson said. “Very often athletes are role models and have a responsibility if they like it or not to be mindful of that, the more responsibility they show the greater the influence they will be. When it comes to activism, athletes absolutely can take a stand and use their position to do so. I do believe in the law, and if the law is not being broken, I don’t see anything wrong.”

In addition, the majority of people who said they agree that activism belongs in sports were between the ages of 18 and 29. While the ones who disagreed the most were 65 and older.

“I believe that activism should be allowed to be in sports because it allows athletes, who can have a enormous influence, a chance to educate others about the social injustices that are still present in our country today,” Dang said. “I personally supported Colin Kaepernick when he kneeled because he was using his voice to protest against police brutality and white privilege, I really respected him for that because it must have taken a lot of courage. Protesting is a constitutional right, and I think that athletes should be able to choose to protest when they deem it is necessary.”

At the end of the day, I think doing the right thing is more important and impactful than caring what others think about you.”

— Dylan Dang

A former NFL player, Jim Brown, was heavily involved in activism but he took his efforts off the field. This was extremely important during his time because it was completely different from what other athletes were doing, regardless he was able to inspire millions around the world.

“An athlete that inspires me beyond words is Ann Meyers Drysdale,” junior LeeAnn Stamm said. “Not only did she try to break sports gender barriers but she is the only woman who has signed an NBA contract for the Indiana Pacers. I also admire her because she always stood up for herself no matter what.”

People have not always been so fond of athlete activism, right after the Colin Kaepernick controversy, only 20% of people were for it, according to Public Opinion Quarterly. However, in recent years this number has doubled and continues to rapidly increase.

“I think that anyone willing to stand for something important to them needs to be prepared for others to ridicule and mock them,” Benson said. “If whatever they are standing for is important enough to them, they will not concern themselves with the backlash that will occur.  On the flip side, there will be many who choose to stand with them for advocating their belief.  When we are willing to stand for something, we must be prepared for both.”

Even though the majority of people believe using activism in sports is necessary, there can be a lot of disadvantages that come along with doing so.

“I think a potential disadvantage would be the intense amount of criticism you would most likely receive,” Dang said. “Colin Kaepernick got some insane backlash from so many people, I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. But at the end of the day, I think doing the right thing is more important and impactful than caring what others think about you.”