Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett is compelled to be an advocate for social issues.
Michael Bennett walked out of the locker room wearing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt. He knew this was a powerful way to make a statement and bring up a topic that has become integral to him. When a reporter asked him about his shirt, Bennett voiced his support for athlete activism and made a call to action for fellow NFL players to walk the line with him.
Bennett said, “In the NBA, the greatest players are at the forefront of the movement. In the NFL, the greatest players aren’t. Our great players are sitting back just taking the dollars, whether it’s Cam Newton or other guys.” This is an interesting quote, because much has been made that the NBA is a more progressive league as it is made up of many superstar players. NBA players have the ability to express themselves more, whereas the NFL is made up of a collection of teams. Fans identify with NFL teams, but in the NBA, they identify with stars as well.
Michael Jordan is notorious for saying “Republicans buy shoes too,” meaning that he was going to stay neutral in public on his views. Nowadays, brands have a global reach, which allows these NBA players to earn endorsement dollars anywhere in the world. Athletes don’t need to be in Los Angeles or New York in order to maximize their potential. This gives superstars leverage to voice their opinions on matters outside of sports. Since these athletes have a platform and can shape the public’s view on entertainment, food, etc., why not make a difference in current events too? Gone are the days where athletes simply take the paycheck and keep their mouths closed.
“When kids say they want me to be their role model, I always ask them why? They say it’s ‘because you play so great on the field,’ but I tell them that’s a terrible reason to have a role model,” Bennett said. “When young kids look up to me, I want them to be like, ‘Man, this is a guy that’s pushing for everything.’ ” This mindset is becoming more of the norm in sports today and should only increase with the mainstream use of social media and television.
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