Players on politics, should they be involved?


Photo illustration by Mike Hamilton ’22

Mike Hamilton '22, Web Editor

For decades athletes and celebrities have been looked to by big brands for sponsorships and endorsements. But more recently they have had a bigger role in the spotlight ever since the various social justice movements that have become more prominent.

Specifically, the biggest athlete in the National Basketball Association, Lebron James has been particularly outspoken on political issues in the past with his comments on other owners in the league and social issues. In response to this vocal activism, a popular Italian soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović said,” Athletes should be athletes (and) politicians should be politicians.”

In my opinion, the comments by Zlatan are out of touch. He doesn’t play in the United States or is of the demographic that is fighting against the hate and injustice in our country. I think it is important for athletes to use their platform to further causes that may go under-reported after the initial two weeks of coverage. When James or any other athletes speaks on politics they have a large group of attentive listeners who may not be educated on the subject. It is a different time than it was just a few years ago when Colin Kapernick was ostracized from the National Football League for taking a stand against police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem.

It is just as fair for an athlete to support a social movement for free just as they would get paid millions to do for a pair of shoes. One other issue I see with the increased activism in athletes is where to draw the line.

Going back to James, recently when asked about whether or not he would share if or when he got the COVID-19 vaccine and he responded with,” Things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody. I’ll keep it that way.” I personally don’t agree with this stance. If you use your platform to promote things that you believe are for the common good, don’t fall back on statements of private decisions. It is a different story if he was asked about his family which would be totally acceptable to keep private.

For someone whose whole life is in the public eye and many people look to for guidance, it is just as important to see him get his vaccine or at least know his stance on the subject. If he doesn’t feel comfortable or safe getting one, that’s fine. But let the people know why your choosing not to do so.

This is a different issue than just medical information or an injury report. This is a global pandemic where it is no secret that many different groups of people for a variety of reasons don’t feel safe receiving the vaccine. Regardless of his stance LeBron James should take use his platform to help end COVID-19 by at least letting the public know his status on the vaccine. His comments alone could help get thousands to be vaccinated or for manufacturers to double down on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.