Speak up or strike out
February 22, 2017
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The Grammys, Golden Globes, and the SAG awards were filled with an abundance of political statements. From Meryl Streep’s comments against Donald Trump, to Katy Perry’s message to resist, to David Harbour’s passionate plea to repel bullies and accept the freaks, Hollywood has taken up the resistance against Trump’s policies.
Hollywood’s biggest stages have become political battlegrounds. On Sunday Feb. 5 America forgot the glam of Hollywood’s award season, and sports biggest field was instead in the spotlight.
Super Bowl LI was full of eventful moments from the Atlanta Falcon’s early points, to Tom Brady’s charge down the field to tie the score, to the historic overtime victory.
Throughout the game, viewers saw subtle political statements. Commercials from companies such as Lumber 84, Budweiser, Airbnb, and Coca-Cola made sly political statements supporting immigration, acceptance, and equality. Lady Gaga’s half time show was also riddled with understated political commentary.
Despite these instances of companies and performers taking a political stand, the athletes themselves never voiced their personal perspectives on the heated political climate. Despite all the screen time, all the moments between plays, the postgame interviews, no athlete made an effort to address our country’s issues.
Now, yes, they were playing in one of the biggest games of their careers, so their minds might not have been focused on the politics.
But the pressure and prestige of the Olympic games did not stop American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos from using their spotlight to do the black power salute, a gesture that was meant to represent the fight for human rights across the globe.
Even American athletic icon Muhammed Ali advocated for civil rights and criticized the Vietnam War. Ali was even arrested for draft evasion in 1967, temporarily stripped of his titles and banned from boxing before his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Our political climate has begun to mirror the global political arena of the 1960’s-1970’s. Controversy and backlash follows every decision President Trump makes as political sides battle it out to form their ideal America. Protests and demonstrations are the new brunch. Many ordinary people have become more vocal. Isn’t it time athletes do the same and advocate for what they believe in?
Athletes offer a unique perspective, for only they continuously know what it is like to work as a team every day for one goal. Professional teams work together, despite race, ethnicity, political affiliation, or sexual orientation, to win. Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player exhibited this sentiment when he said “how you played in yesterday’s game is all that counts.”
Athletes only succeed with unity and cooperation, and yet when the unity and cooperation of the American political dynamic seems almost extinct, they stay mute behind their million dollar salaries.
We, as Chicagoans, know the high esteem we hold our athletes to, but they should no longer stay silent. They must use their spotlight to take a stand no matter the consequences. As Olympian John Carlos told The Guardian in 2012, “I had a moral obligation to step up. Morality was a far greater force than the rules and regulations they had.”
It is due time for athletes to step it up.