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

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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To All Student-Athletes Beginning Their Respective Seasons, Remember Why You Play

You are going to get tired. You are going to get worn out...

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Dear athlete,

The season is by far the most exciting time of the year. Big plays, good memories, traveling new places, and winning championships... But yet another promise is that season is also exhausting.

You are going to get tired. You are going to get worn out...

But remember that this season of your life doesn't last forever. Remind yourself why you play.

You play this sport because you love the game. You love the competition, you love your teammates and the friendships that you've formed, you love the lessons you learn aside from the physical aspect.

So each day, continue to choose the game.

It's not easy. But if it was, everyone would do it. But discomfort is where progress happens.

Quit dreading practices, quit wishing for rain, quit complaining about conditioning, and quit taking for granted a busy schedule that is literally made just for you. Tens of thousands of young girls and boys would do anything to be in the position (literally) that you are in. Take advantage of being a role model to those young kids who think the world of you.

Freshmen, this is what you have wanted for so long. Take advantage of the newness, take advantage of the advice, encouragement, and constructive criticism that your older teammates give you. Soak it all in, four years goes by really quickly.

Sophomores, you now know how it works. Be confident in your abilities, yet continue to learn and grow mentally and in your position.

Juniors, prepare to take the lead. Use this season to, of course, continue to sharpen your skill, but also recognize that you're over halfway done, so mentally and physically ready yourself to take the seniors' lead next year.

Seniors, this is it. Your last year of playing the sport that you love. Be a good leader, motivate, and leave your mark on the program in which you have loved for so long. Encourage the athletes behind you to continue the traditions and standards set by the program. Lay it all on the field, leave it all on the court, and leave your program better than you found it.

Take the season one day at a time and, each day, make it your goal to get better. Get better for your team, for you pushing yourself makes everyone else work even harder. So even if you don't get a lot of playing time, make your teammates better by pushing yourself so hard that they have no other choice than to push themselves too. And when a team has every single player pushing themselves to the max, success happens.

Take advantage of this time with your teammates and coaches, for they won't be your teammates and coaches forever.

No matter what year you are and no matter what your role is this season... GROW. You are an integral part of your team and your program.

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New Year, New Home

Moving into the new year...

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As 2018 comes to a close, it's a perfect time to reflect on everything that's happened this year. One thing that's helped me with that recently has been the process of moving. From looking back on the past to getting ready for new beginnings, packing up my old things and clearing out my room has reminded me of both the tangible and memorable experiences not just from this year, but in the past decade I've spent in Atlanta. This short cinematic film is a recollection of the memories of my childhood home and the ride we've been on this year, a microcosm of thoughts from the past 365 days.

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