By Justin Robertson
Shortly after the tragic mass shooting that took place at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, millions of people around the globe offered their condolences for the victims and their families. However, for some, condolences are not enough, as they want change to
happen to prevent more tragedies like the one that took place on February 14, 2018. Professional athletes, like basketball star Lebron James, have started to take a more proactive stance and speak more on social issues.
During an ESPN interview that aired one day after the Florida shooting, James made statements on various topics, including his family and life as a professional basketball player. James also discussed politics and President Trump during the interview, which sparked controversy. Fox News reporter, Laura Ingraham, made a comment on James’ opinion stating that, “Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.” These comments made by Ingraham infuriated many, including James, and caused reporters to ask James about the feud, instead of the usual sports related questions. James responded by saying, “I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice, equality and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to 'shut up and dribble’. So, thank you, whatever her name is.”
Gregg Popovich, NBA coach and a close friend of James, also discussed Ingraham’s comments, stating, “To me, when I heard about that, it was like an unbelievable show of arrogance for a talking head to try to tell someone else if they can speak, what they can speak about, when and where to do it.” Other professional athletes including Dwyane Wade, Chris Long, and Alejandro Bedoya, defended James in an attempt to have a voice, not just in sports, but in controversial topics that affect many around the world. The controversy statement made by Bedoya was even brought up during the 2018 Oscars, with former NBA all star Kobe Bryant mocking Bedoya in his award acceptance speech, stating, “As basketball players, we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but I'm glad we do a little bit more than that."
Athletes like James and Bryant have a voice too, and can have a monumental impact on issues, as millions know who they are. Many kids across the country look up to these athletes as role models, which makes the athletes’ voices even more important. Regardless of political views and ideology, telling anyone, including athletes, to keep their comments and views to themselves is outright wrong. This includes student athletes here at Glenelg too. Glenelg Sophomore Ryan Cauley said, “Athletes deserve a voice, as they are valued members of our community.” Additionally, Glenelg Sophomore and Varsity wrestler, Drew Sotka, said that, “Being an athlete myself, I think athletes deserve to have a voice on all issues.” Reporters such as Ingraham are not the only people who deserve to have a voice, as even our local athletes want to have a voice on social issues.
Athletes not only should, but also have the right to state their opinions on issues around the globe. Whether it be a professional athlete or a Glenelg athlete, any athlete can have a voice in situations besides sports.