Including athletes in political conversation


Photo courtesy of @Kaepernick7 on Instagram.

A pair of cleats sponsored by Know Your Rights Campaign.


In the realm of athletics, players from various sports try to advocate for change in the world. Professional and amateur leagues have made it known that they want to be involved in eliminating cultural appropriation and racial bias through different actions and policies. Many controversies surround the reception of this motion, however, the increase in prejudices in recent years has created an avenue that many are using to move forward with progressive thinking in professional sports.

Many arguments suggest that athletes should not have any say in what happens in our country from a political perspective. There is evidence of this on various news sources and social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter; there are threads where people speak against professional athletes who are trying to make their voice heard outside of their sport. One of the more notable instances of this dates back to 2018, when journalist Laura Ingraham told basketball star, LeBron James, to “shut up and dribble” after he addressed political issues in an interview.

Athletes have used their status and platform to speak out against specific issues that are most important to them. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sent a strong message when he first kneeled for the National Anthem back in 2016, taking a stand against racial inequality and police brutality. Kaepernick started a trend that has continued into the present day, as there are still athletes who choose not to stand for the National Anthem prior to games.

Speaking out against social issues has worked to steer away from previous standards that were in place. Moving towards a world where everyone is given a fair chance is what athletes are pushing for, and so far they have done a good job in accomplishing that. There is still plenty of progress to be made, and athletes will continue to push their beliefs into the game so everyone is treated fairly. Going about this carefully would be the best option, because if they try to push all of their ideas into their sport, it may not come across to people in the way that they want it to.

Convergence of sports and political conversation has historically not been a very strong combination, but in the progressive era that we live in today, that script is slowly starting to change. Big-name athletes have been a big part of this change, and as long as they use their voice and their platform for the right reasons, the world of sports can turn into a place where race and religion does not matter. If you have the skill to play at the highest level, you will be given that opportunity.