“Shut up and dribble.” Those were the words fox news journalist Laura Ingraham had in response to LeBron James’s and Kevin Durant’s commentary on President Donald Trump’s presidency so far.
She also went on to say that their comments were both “barely intelligible” and “ungrammatical” going on to comment on LeBron’s lack of intelligence for supposedly not finishing high school, which he did, and for being paid to bounce a ball.
Now there are a lot of things wrong with these statements, but none more wrong than the double standard that we hold athletes to. More often than not, we reduce them to nothing more than the stereotypical jock that can do nothing more than play the sport they are paid to play and nothing else.
We view them as incapable of having any sort of individuality or aptitude for intellectual though,t so it’s not too shocking that this is the type of criticism that they are met with whenever the general public catches wind of whatever political views they might hold.
Why is that? Why is that one moment they are just normal everyday citizens who are allowed to have as much input as anyone else about how their government is being run but the moment they out on a jersey they are no longer allowed the same freedoms?
Going even further, socially active athletes are put under constant scrutiny than those who are not. They are told that they are doing too much, spreading themselves too thin, and should be focusing on the career they are paid thousands, sometimes even millions of dollars, to play.
Yet when they turn their backs to what is going on in the world, they are told they are not doing enough to help the community around them or to raise awareness on what is going on in the world. They are put in a position where they cannot win, damned if they do damned if they don’t, one where they are never doing what they are supposed to be doing.
Social media has completely changed the world as we know it, giving everyone who has access to a keyboard and an internet connection and even more importantly it has given those with the power to truly impact the world around them to do so. Athletes have constantly found themselves in this position.
Whether they have wanted it or not, kids come to look at them as role models, young adults look at them as beacons of where they can get if they never give up and entire cities look at to them as a symbol of hope as their actions can sometimes revitalize and entire community.
They SHOULD do more than just dribble. These are men and women who do so much for the communities around them when they are able.
These are men and women who come from hard backgrounds and upbringings and have done everything they can to overcome these circumstances. These are men and women who have become as big of a social icon as most politicians have or ever will be.
Some of the greatest athletes of recent memory were never able to have the voice that athletes have nowadays because of the limited media they had access to, but with the growth of the internet and the 24 hour news reel athletes can have just as much impact as any celebrity or law maker can on a topic of social and political importance and they are constantly aware of this.
They are constantly aware of the eyes and cameras that are on them and the weight their words and actions carry and they do their best to make sure that they do not abuse the voice that they have. They are more than athletes, they are more than numbers, and they are more than shoe deals and commercials.
They are the living embodiment of the American dream; they are self-made men and women who dedicated their lives to being the best at what they do and making a living off of it.
They are icons of hope, beacons that can inspire one to keep pushing a little further because at the end of all the hardship is the success they have always wanted. Do not let the news make them mindless jocks and never allow politicians to make their views invalid.