social issues in sports

Spotlighting Social Issues In Sports Is Not Just OK, It Should Be Encouraged

If we can highlight social issues everywhere else, then why not on the court too?

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For a long time, I was strongly against athletes bringing social issues into sports. I thought that athletes bringing social issues into their own sports was similar to anyone in an office job going off about the same topics at their desks.

I began to wrestle with the idea once LeBron started with his "More Than An Athlete" statement, and since then, have had a change of heart.

I think that athletes bringing their own perspectives on social issues to sports is a good thing, and here's why:

Unlike people who work regular 9-5 jobs, athletes have a voice that reaches millions of people. It seems in today's social climate, people always talk about how if there was a dialogue between sides, things would be better. Well, athletes offer much-needed dialogue, it's just how people respond that can put things into a negative light.

For example, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down with Green Beret Nate Boyer and was able to have an extremely productive conversation on the way that Kaepernick would protest social injustice in America. While I don't necessarily agree with Kaepernick, I think that an athlete taking a stand and then having a dialogue with other people with a different perspective is the proper way to conduct opinions.

The other reason why social issues should be in sports is that they bring meaning and personality to the individuals that play such sports.

I'm not saying that players who remain quiet about issues aren't meaningful, but the ones that voice their opinions give fans and other viewers the ability to see their personalities come to life during an event.

Two-time NFL MVP and super bowl XLV champion Aaron Rodgers may not speak much on social issues, but it seems like what he has said translates to the way he carries himself on the field.

On many things, Rodgers chooses to remain stoic and keep his opinions to himself. I think most people who play Rodgers on Sundays would say that he carries himself like that on the field, and with that, is able to force people to guess what his next move is.

Though, the one time he did break his silence, he expressed how NFL teams should just stay in the locker room for the national anthem like they used to. After this statement, I watched Rodgers during the national anthem the next few games. Like his vague stance, he also gave a mysterious front during the anthem. He stood neutrally, with a blank expression on his face, arms at his side, not showing any kind of support or distaste towards the anthem, just a neutral personality. Much like that of his on the field.

On the other hand, take an outspoken personality such as LeBron James. James has continued to speak out against social injustices and continues to speak his own thoughts and opinions, which is a personality that comes to the court whenever he plays. If you watch a LeBron game for 5 minutes you can see LeBron sharing opinions with coaches, refs and players alike. He never fails to voice his opinion on a bad call or go crazy after an And-1, showing that same outspokenness he has off the court.

Without social issues in sports, many people would stay comfortable in their perspectives. Athletes taking a stand challenges people to think critically and question their own perspectives on various topics, which in turn may create a more chaotic environment, but one of dialogue that must be had.

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11 Things Fastpitch Softball Players Know To Be True

You'll never remember your Facebook password, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life.
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There comes a time in every little girl's life when she must come to terms with the fact that she will never play Major League Baseball. So, she turns to softball. From tee-ball to coach-pitch to travel ball, to playing on your school team, softball has played a crucial role in your life. It taught you the value of teamwork, the importance of sunscreen, and introduced you to your best friends. For former and current fastpitch players alike, these truths are universal.

1. The rays of a thousand suns couldn't even out your tan lines.

Tan arms and a V-neck tan line is the unofficial uniform of the softball player. Years after you stop playing softball, at 2 p.m. on the second Monday of every month when the sun is shining through your bathroom window at a 90-degree angle, you'll swear you can still see the slightest hint of a racerback tan line between your shoulders. Good luck finding a flattering sundress!

2. Pitchers are a different breed of human.

It's a tale as old as time: You saw that the pitchers got to skip all of the intense drills at practice so they can go off to the side with the catcher to chat and have a catch for an hour and you said, "I gotta get in on that." So, your dad paid for your pitching lessons, you mimicked Jennie Finch as best as you could, and three years later, you're contemplating changing your name just to forget about that time you spent as a pitcher. Successful pitchers must have no other interests, future career goals, or a family who loves them because pitching just destroys everything you believe in. If you do survive being a pitcher, congratulations, because you are now fully equipped with nerves of steel that will allow you to conquer the worst that life has to throw at you.

3. An 8 a.m. game on Sunday means you had a really bad Saturday.

Where is the most tranquil and somber place that people often go to on Sunday mornings to reflect on their wrongdoings? No, not church. It's the softball field. When you have to be at the field before the sun, you start thinking irrationally, like "Maybe if I used the Demarini instead of the Stealth in the third inning of the second game yesterday we would've only lost by six runs instead of seven which would have put us in the winner's bracket!" Have fun running a lap for every error you made the day before.

4. If the other team is wearing shorts, you know you're going to win.

There's just so much leg! Shorts and softball go together like ketchup and strawberry jelly, as in, that's what your knees are going to look like if you even attempt to slide wearing a pair of shorts. Don't even get me started on the tan line from mid thigh to mid shin. You know the one. This is the big leagues, ladies, put on some pants.

5. If you aren't dirty after a game, you didn't play hard enough.

If you don't come home from a tournament, look in the mirror, and go, "Wow I got a good tan today!" only to take a shower and find out that it was all just dirt, then you probably missed that slide sign from the third base coach when you were rounding second.

6. Cheers are a necessary evil.

Cheering in softball is like having a dead-end job that you hate; it's unfulfilling, robs you of your dignity, and tires you out, but you have to do it anyway. You'll never remember your Facebook password, your parents' anniversary, or that you left your laundry in the washer, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life. Unless, of course, you fall into the water and bump your little head like that damn froggy.

7. Pre-wrap is a hot commodity in the dugout.

"I'll trade you a bag of Ranch sunflower seeds for your light blue pre wrap."

"No way, I had to get my mom to drive me to three different Sports Authority's last night just to find this color!"

8. You may get along with other teams between games, but they are not your friends on the field.

It's perfectly normal to meet another player in line for the bathroom at a tournament, compliment her on her cheetah print hair ribbon, and then trash talk her on the field half an hour later. You can make it up to her by giving her a high five and a poignant smile in the handshake line after the game.

9. If you get hit by a pitch and there aren't lace marks in your skin, it's really just a waste of time.

You love being able to showcase your bruises at school on Monday when all of your non-softball friends ask, "Does it hurt to get hit with a fastball?" and you can coolly and calmly answer, "Nah." Bruises up your street cred, and lace marks are just bonus points. So, when you don't have any stitching embedded in your skin, you wish you could just have the chance to bat. Take your base.

10. When the bat meets the ball juuuuuust right, it is the most powerful feeling in the world.

Your dad was right when he told you to keep your head down when you swing. You always thought that the "sweet spot" of the bat was just a myth until you hit your first home run. The rush of adrenaline will make you feel so powerful that you'll try to see if you can pick up a car in the parking lot with your bare hands after the game, but you still can't.

11. You will always consider your team to be your best friends.

After spending every weekend together, you and your team create a bond so close that it borders on uncomfortable. You may take out your frustrations on each other from time to time like when someone steps on the freshly chalked line before the game, or when you all fight over the ball with the best, most prominent laces for your warm up toss. But at the end of the day, your team will always be the biggest bunch of weirdos you know, and that is irreplaceable.

Cover Image Credit: Art Mad

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The NBA Lottery Is A Broken System And Should Be Removed

The NBA's method of determining the top picks in the draft is wildly unfair.

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As a Hawks fan, I feel that we got robbed again in the lottery. Despite having the 5th best shot at the 1st pick and odds of 10.5%, we still ended up with the 8th overall pick for this draft.

Somehow, the Pelicans of all teams got the 1st pick, with just a 6% chance of doing so. The Pelicans did not even play all that bad this year and for them to get the 1st pick could quickly change their outlook. And after Anthony Davis was rumored to have asked for a trade, this may have all of a sudden changed his mind.

But what about the rest of the teams that had much worse struggles? How do they dig themselves out of their rabbit hole? Are they just left to rot away and lengthen their rebuild?

In the NFL and MLB, the order of draft picks is based on a reverse record order. This simply means that the team with the worst record picks first, the next-worst team picks second, and so on, with the best team picking last. The main purpose of the lottery in the NBA was to prevent teams from tanking. But now, the lottery has almost gotten out of hand. Teams that should be getting better picks (like the Hawks) are getting worse picks than they should.

Sure, I may be a little salty, but I think I am justified in my anger.

There were a lot of other teams that in my opinion suffered. Even the Cavs and Suns got robbed. The Cavs and Suns were tied for the best odds in the lottery, and still ended up with the 5th and 6th pick, respectively. So when I mean that Hawks fans are not the only teams upset with the lottery, you better believe it. I'm sure a lot of desperate fans of teams that failed to make the playoffs strongly dislike the draft.

Sure, it may be a lot easier to tank in the NBA compared to other leagues simply because an NBA team is usually much smaller than and MLB or NFL team. But if a team wants to purposely lose games, a team should have the right to do so. It's their loss in revenue from the fans that do not want to go see a losing team. And losing may be against the spirit of a game, but it is only in consideration of the future.

And considering there have not been any wild issues with MLB or NFL drafts, I really think the NBA should just stick to using a team's record to determine a draft pick. There aren't many other ways to fairly distribute picks to teams that are suffering and need good talent to get back to their winning ways.

Just my two cents.

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