Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is more required of black male superstar athletes?

Yahoo! NFL blogger Doug Farrar summarized an interesting article did on Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is an outspoken supporter of same-sex couples having the right to be married. Kluwe definitely adopted a clear position on what is a contentious issue in American society today.

Many athletes refuse to wade into political battles for fear of losing endorsements, popularity, etc. (Farrar did mention the Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo as a supporter of same-sex marriage, while Kluwe’s former Vikings teammate and Ayanbadejo's current teammate center Matt Birk opposes same-sex couples having the right to be married.)

Toward the end of the article, Farrar touched on the backlash that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan receive for staying apolitical.

This raises an interesting question: Why should prominent black male athletes be the ones who have to speak out? I have heard scant calls for Peyton or Eli Manning to take social stands. Nil for Aaron Rodgers. Same goes for last year’s National League MVP Ryan Braun.

There is a romanticization in mainstream media with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith? These men, along with many women, have gone against the grain to say what’s in their hearts and change the social landscape.

But why do LeBron James and other black male stars have to carry this legacy and not prominent athletes in general?

I write this warning of a little buyers’ remorse: Perhaps if more athletes do speak out, those “social activists” may not like what they hear.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

1 comment:

Ryan Miley said...

Great points made and intriguing scenario presented here. I can see where it seems like more is expected of black male superstar athletes, but I think it has to do more with popularity than race. I do think there is some expectation because of the former athletes you mentioned so I could see it both ways really. Maybe people are just more interested in their opinions. I honestly hope it doesn’t have anything to do with race as I personally would want to hear JJ Reddick’s point of view on issues as much as LeBron James. I can’t really see the Manning brothers discussing anything like that in the public eye and am surprised that any NFL players did at all. That is at least a step forward. In my opinion the black male superstar athletes in general now are the trend setters for not only youth but everyone globally as well. Many people follow the way they dress or the music they listen to or even the way they speak or handle themselves these days. That is just my opinion of course but maybe that plays into wanting to hear their opinion more on issues than others. If anything I would take it as a compliment instead of an insult or burden. I think Jackie Robinson would love how prominent black athletes have become in the sports world along with all the others that made it possible. I can see your point of view I just hope that isn’t the case.