There is no doubt our modern day, black athletes are nothing like the activist athletes of the 1960’s or 1970’s. This is the era of Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood, Spencer Haywood, Smith and Carlos, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Warren, Lucius Allen, the Harvard University Crew team, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and many more.
This was the golden era of black, activist athletes, but it seems like a relic of the distant past. The modern day black athletes are not interested in the least bit of entertaining any political discussion involving the black community or other wise.
I feel comfortable discussing why black athletes will never be activist like the golden era because as a former division one, full scholarship athlete, I know the environment they are breed first hand. No, I didn’t make it pro, but have several friends that did and play today. I’ve been around them in this environment and it is just more magnified and profitable than what I experienced on a collegiate level.
I’m sure you will have some input and ideas to offer to this discussion as well. Please take a moment to identify them after reading below and sharing them with the group. Let’s get into the reasons now.
Lack Of Historical Understanding And Connection To The Black Struggle
This is an infection most in the black community have, so it isn’t really fair to just try and put it all on athletes. This is a clear byproduct of turning over the education of our young people to the system that put us in this situation. How could we ever expect them to properly educate our young people to grow up loving anyone but the system creator?
We don’t understand, embrace or relate to our history as a whole. This is no different with the athletes. Therefore, when they grow up, they are disconnected and not willing to stick their neck out or sacrifice their promotion/financial gain for the black community.
Raised in Apolitical Atmospheres
Athletes are segregated from the general population of the black community. Although they know what happens to our people and the struggle is real, at some point they are sheltered from it. This typically happens around high school years when they begin to separate themselves from the pack with their performance. They are put under the wing of the Athletic Department and everything changes from there.
Once they are recruited to college, given a scholarship and put on the “program”, they are further sheltered. All their affairs, interactions, and people of importance are with white handlers ushering them through the athletic system. They have mostly white professors, coaches, trainers, advisers, athletic counselors, and many of them take white girls friends.
Upon moving into the professional ranks, the white handlers continue in the form of agents, lawyers, accountants, managers, financial investors, and more. The race issues fall from the table because these are all apolitical atmospheres where the only thing that matters is the money. Everyone is focused on the money and no one diverts their attention from the bottom line.
Selfish: The Struggle Is Over For Them
Selfish might be a bit strong, but acting in their best self-interest isn’t. None of the modern day athletes are struggling financially. In the era of multi-million dollar contracts, television rights, endorsements, and merchandising, the financial struggle is over for athletes.
The no longer live in the poverty filled neighborhoods. They have money, access, and fame. The sun is always shining and they have the money to chase their dreams. They are no longer interested in fighting the battles of the black community. In fact, many feel like they found a way out of the ghettos and so should the rest of us.
The League Would Likely Fine Them
No matter which professional sport black athletes compete, it is likely the leagues would fine or silence them in some manner. These corporations have no interest in seeing their product take a stand for any political issues. It would more than likely upset a good portion of their fan base, therefore, there is no room for this when it comes to their athletes.
I’m not sure if remaining apolitical is written into the contracts these days, as I didn’t play professional ball, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. I say that because you don’t see any athletes, white, black, asian or other, take a stand for anything politically in any sport.
Potential Black Ball From The League
Even if you could find a black athlete grow a backbone to stand up and say something about the political environment surrounding the black community and enduring the potential fines from their governing league, they could be black balled from playing in the future.
Each team has an owner. These owners are all about their money, period. If a black athlete is going to kick up some dust, bringing what they would perceive to be negative attention to their team, then he/she could be fired. Worse, all these owners know one another and are friends. The athlete has the potential from being banned from all the teams in the league and no one is willing to give up their livelihood to speak a few words on behalf of the black community.
Would Destroy Sponsorship Opportunities
Building on the financial impact, speaking out on black political issues could cost the athlete their sponsorship opportunities. Talking about the black struggle in this country and world will upset many of the sponsoring, advertising company’s customer base. This means they will drop the athlete in a second and you know no one is going to compromise their money for the black community….not even modern black people.
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PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.