By: Jason “Big J” Allen

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     “Republicans buy shoes too.” -Michael Jordan

      This was Jordan’s answer in response to why he wouldn’t lend support to Democrat candidate Harvey Gantt, in the 1990 Senator election against Jesse Helms.  Now I know there have been other athletes that have taken similar neutral stands, so they wont hurt endorsements and etc.  The problem now is we have birthed a generation of non activist athletes, and let’s face it, sorry Sir Charles you all are role models.

On the heels of this Trayvon Martin case a lot of athletes took to twitter and showed their feelings and thoughts on the matter within 140 characters of course.  These tweets struck a reaction from me, as I looked around the landscape and realized, where have all our athletic activist gone?  Remember the days of Mohammad Ali, fighting against America’s unfair drafting of Blacks in the Vietnam war.  Ali stood up for much more in his era, and was more than just the “Baddest Man Alive” he was a revolutionary.  How about Jim Brown who has dedicated his life to fighting injustice of race, creed, and even went Bill Cosby on the plight of the modern black community.  We all remember the stoic picture in the 1968 Olympic games of Tommie Smith and John Carlos putting their black gloved fist in the air in protest of Black poverty in America.  Billie Jean King working to get equal pay for women in tennis and one of the biggest advocates of Title IX.  I’m sure your getting the point that sports has had a huge history of activist standing tall for a cause and helping mold the public to the cause.  Or at least getting people to have an open dialog about the topic.

So where did the Sports Activist go then?  It’s simple they went the way of consumer and capitalist money making.  Just like the Michael Jordan’s quote it is easy to be silent and make money, then to make a stand and offend.  Also in our new political correct atmosphere, the backlash for speaking up/out will always offend someone.  Offended people don’t buy shoes from athletes they dislike or don’t agree with.  I just wish these figures with so much influence will walk in the line of fire unafraid sometimes and help motivate people to fix some of the ills of this world.  We saw a similar swell in the Obama campaign, regardless of how you view his politics, we did see how the athlete/celebrity status helped change a Nation by making a first happen.  Now imagine if that swell was used to fight unemployment, legislature, and awareness of good causes.

I know in reading this a lot of people will say “Why do I care what an athlete says when it comes to my beliefs” and you are right.  Or you might say “I watch/root for them for what they do on the field/court/diamond/etc I don’t want their opinion on my stance” and again you would be right.  A lot of the country was outraged at Bob Costas using his platform to talk about his view on guns, and I say to you, if he never said anything would the country have had a dialogue about guns in America?  Probably not.  For good or for bad conversations being had on issues that we want to sweep under the rug is good for both parties involved.  I’m not asking you to give a Damn about what athletes think, feel, or stand for.  I’m asking athletes to give a damn about the influence they can wield to make a difference.  The choice is ours to take action or to ignore.  Now I don’t agree with what Roddy White and Victor Cruz said on twitter, but their mere opinion about the Martin case got the topic talked about again in my household.  That’s what I want to happen in households all over the world, and these figures made to be larger than life can help that.  Maybe one day athletes will realize that we all have a responsibility make a better world, and they can be the spark to start a revolutionary fire!  Without Michael Jordan’s support Harvey Gantt lost to Jesse Helms, an open bigot and race baiter.  Now Gantt loss is not Michael Jordan’s fault, but Michael Jordan didn’t HELP either and sometimes that is just as bad.

“Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be”
Jimmy Johnson

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you”
John Wooden

 “Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man.”-Pele

Jason "Big J" Allen  @UnsportsmenBigJ

Jason “Big J” Allen
@UnsportsmenBigJ

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