For years, athletes have been seen as the stereotypical “dumb jocks,” with their athletic ability overshadowing everything else about them. Professional athletes are not expected to do or participate in anything other than what everyone knows they excel at.
Many movies and TV shows perpetuate this stereotype. Programs like “Friday Night Lights” show that performing well trumps all. Athletes have come a long way and have proven that they are more than just “dumb jocks.”
Recently, athletes have been using their platforms and influencing their fans to speak up about injustice. People like Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick have shown that athletes are more than just entertainers. They are also people who care about what happens to others and what happens in the world.
Athletes have stepped up in many ways this year. One of the biggest ways they have stepped up is financially.
At the beginning of this year, the country was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many businesses to close temporarily or permanently. It has left people without jobs and unable to pay their bills.
The pandemic forced sports seasons to be postponed until further notice, which left many arena workers jobless. Athletes and sports team owners stepped up to the plate and offered to donate money to cover the wages of arena workers.
Athletes from all sports have made donations. Basketball players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Love, Zion Williamson and Blake Griffin all individually pledged to donate $100,000 to cover the arena workers’ wages. Following suit, baseball and hockey players have also made donations. Whole teams have contributed as well.
Professional athletes make millions of dollars. They see more money than most people see in their entire lives, yet they are willing to pay everyday people’s wages, people they don’t know. The fact that they are willing to support their fans is a huge step up. They are able to show that they care about others in this world.
Although they may not have been directly affected by the pandemic, many professional athletes are donating to help those that support them. Helping arena workers financially lets the fans know they care.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said in an Instagram post, “These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization.” He continued, “This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people.”
Not only have athletes given their support financially, but they have also spoken up about injustice. They have spoken up about police brutality against African Americans and the importance of voting.
In an effort to create a safer voting environment, sports arenas and stadiums across the country have become polling locations. The list of stadiums and arenas include the BNA, MLB, NHL and NFL.
“In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local election officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general elections,” the NBA said in a statement.
The focus has not only been on creating safe places for people to vote but also making sure that they go out and vote.
More Than A Vote, an organization created by Black athletes and entertainers, aims to inspire African Americans to register and vote in the next election. Athletes in this group include Lebron James, Jason Heyward, Kyle Lowry and Skylar Diggins.
The push to get out and vote came after protests against police brutality broke out across the country. The deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake at the hands of police officers created outrage.
In late August, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play as a way to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. This sparked a chain of events. Not long after, athletes from all different sports organizations followed the team’s initiative. Sports had once again hit a major pause.
Pro tennis player Naomi Osaka decided to sit out of a semi-final match at the Western Southern Open, stating on Twitter, “before I am a athlete, I am a black [sic]woman.” She continued, “And as a black [sic]woman I feel as though there are more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”
Putting the Black Lives Matter movement at the forefront, NBA players like Kyle Korver and Russell Westbrook wore jerseys with “Black Lives Matter” across the front and back. Others chose “Say Their Name” as their message. The courts also had the message stamped across them, visible to both the fans and players.
Athletes used their voice and their spotlight to let people know things were not right. They have taken the initiative and have shown they are willing to do something to create change.
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