SPANISH HARLEM – Joakim Noah recently made news when he boycotted a dinner with cadets at West Point because of his stance against war. That sparked a subject that I wanted to touch on: Athletes Protesting in Sports.
Joakim Noah is now another name on a long list of players that have taken a stance against an issue that has made fans look at sports differently. It used to be that you could watch a game and forget about the rest of the world. Now you watch a game just to see who will protest. Times are changing, whether we like it or not.
Predominantly, the issue has been #BlackLivesMatter; Carmelo Anthony was one of many to reflect on that particular subject, along with LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwayne Wade. They spoke together at the ESPY’s about the issue and it was courageous. It showed that they cared. It showed that finally major sports athletes were willing to put their careers on the line to fight against what they believed to be injustice. They knew people would take sides and they wanted the fans to know what side they were on. That took guts! For the most part, they were applauded for their actions and with their lead, more players followed.
On Tuesday, the Knicks – along with the Houston Rockets – stood with their arms around each other in a show of unity. As we have seen before, athletes are choosing their platform in sports to fight for what they believe in. You have Kaepernick, who sat and then began kneeling for the National Anthem and then you have other players like Safety Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles with his arm raised in salute of Black Power. It has affected the way we watch sports, with people all over America, issuing their opinions with regard to these protests. You have people that feel these athletes are disrespecting the National Anthem and should be punished in some way by their respective leagues. Pure nonsense!
Some analysts have even stated that if these actions were done at regular jobs, they wouldn’t be protesting because they would get fired. FYI: these are not regular jobs and these are not regular people. Athletes are on TV just as much as actors and musicians. They are on commercials and in our living rooms almost every day. Their influence is undeniable, what they believe and how they act, will stay with us for a very long time.
Many people see these protests as a protest against America and that’s just not true. I get that people can be passionate about their beliefs, but to expect others to feel the same way is irrational. We as fans have to respect the beliefs of others, even if it doesn’t make much sense to us because ultimately (and constitutionally), everyone is entitled to their opinion. We have to stop making it about us and read more about the issues; try to understand their point of view.
We need to be reasonable about our actions and refrain from making obscene tweets and insulting them for being active on social issues. They will not look the other way; no longer will athletes stay quiet.
Everyone is using their voices now and so we should be smart about how we use our platforms. Let’s not make this about “Us vs. Them” but stand united and realize (or accept) that changes have to be made.
Nobody likes war and nobody likes injustice… now that we can agree on!