Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sports and politics on the eve of Super Tuesday

LZ Granderson's ESPN column asks why black athletes aren't more involved in presidential politics, especially in light of the fact that an African-American has a serious shot at winning. Granderson's informal survey of about 100 black NFL and NBA athletes found that many aren't even registered to vote.
Granderson implies apathy as the primary reason that most black athletes don't speak out politically. That may be the case. But another resaon they don't is that they may risk their livelihoods by doing so. After all, their paychecks are controlled by corporate owners who may not share their views. As Dave Zirin has also pointed out, players who make political statements have also drawn the wrath of journalists and a fan base who'd rather they shut up and play.
It is interesting to note that some high-profile retired athletes have gotten involved in this year's race, including Dominique Wilkins, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson. So have the team owners and other high-ranking sports executives, including David Stern, Arthur Blank, Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones Sr.

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