Athletes influence many people. We buy their jerseys, we hang their posters up on our wall and we even wear their shoes in hopes we’ll play just like them. Athlete have the power to change someone’s opinion for the better on issues that effect the whole world. For years, athletes were criticized for not speaking out on social issues, and others took notice.
President Barack Obama told People Magazine in 2014, “we went through a long stretch there where [with] well-paid athletes the notion was just be quiet and get your en- dorsements and don’t make waves. With so much racial tension and gender equality more athletes have taken a stand and spoken out.”
Obama said this after LeBron James wore a shirt with the words “I can’t breathe” on it. James wore the shirt warming up for a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 8, 2014, to show justice for Eric Garner, a man who had been choked to death by a police officer.
James later commented, saying, “I wore the shirt to make people un- derstand what we are going through as a society. As a society, we have to know better and do better for one another.”
Michael Jordan, a former NBA player, also spoke out about the police shootings. Jordan told The Undefeated, “as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Jordan donated $2 million to help address police shooting.
Many people, of all different shades and colors, look up to ath- letes, so it is important for these public figures to make the people more aware of situations via their platform in the media. This may help shape someone’s mind who looks up to James and Jordan, but does not experience police brutality in their personal life.
Male athletes are not the only ones taking a stand. Many female athletes have also spoken out, specifically about not being paid as much as men.
Cali Lloyd, an American soccer player, two-time gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, took action when she saw in- justice.
Lloyd and four other teammates filed for wage discrimination against the U.S. Soccer Federation this March. When Women U.S Soccer won the Women’s World Cup title in Canada in July 2015, they drew the highest American television rat- ing for soccer in history.
According to New York Times, the team helped generate $17.7 million in profit for the Federation. The New York Times also reported, “each year, the United States men’s and women’s national teams each play a minimum of 20 friendly matches. The top five players on the men’s team make an average of $406,000 each year from these games. The top five women are guaranteed only $72,000 each year.”
As athletes continues to break their silence about issues going on in the world, they will help change the way athletes are perceived to not have voice. This may help other athletes speak out on issues that other people may be scared to talk about.