Americans and the Bill of Rights
How it works
There have been many professional players that have decided to take a stand against their athletic organizations in some shape or form. These players use their sport as a platform to express their personal beliefs to the public. History of this kind of protest first arose in the boxing ring, by a boxer that went by the name of Muhammad Ali. During the year of 1967, every male individual that was on American soil was expected to enlist in the army to fight in the Vietnam War.
As a consequence of this stance, Ali’s championship title was stripped from him along with a three-year ban on stepping foot into the ring and a $10,000 fine. Over the next decades we saw professional athletes protest in 1968 Summer Olympics, MLB, NBA, WNBA, and NFL. Each instance were protests conveyed in different ways, but all had a common factor of taking a stance against inequality. After each of these protests, each player or organization received horrendous backlash that included fines or bad names in the tabloids. Colin Kaepernick is a recent professional NFL player that has been victimized of being blacklisted by the NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem. These athletes are brave and courageous enough to use their platform to attempt to make a difference, and they get fined for it? Is this how our society disciplines adults when their authority is challenged? Athletes should obtain the right to petition the organizations for whom they play under, especially if the protest is in efforts to end inequality in our society. This right is bestowed into our intrinsic rights as Americans under the Bill of Rights. These rights should not be infringed upon but rather encouraged in efforts to better our society.
At the time of the 1968 Summer Olympics, racism was a huge issue that was dividing and destroying America. These was right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were African-American track runners for the US National team. Both of these athletes medaled and decided to use this win as an opportunity to convey their political beliefs. Smith and Carlos raised their fists while receiving their gold medal and bronze medal. Their actions were to symbolize black power and a stance against racism and injustice in the United States. Smith stated that he raised his right arm to symbolize power in black America and Carlos’ raised his left arm for the unity in black America. Both of them are suppose to form an arch of unity and power amongst one another. This silent protest resulted in Smith and Carlos being suspended from the national team and being sent back home from Mexico City. This discouraged other athletes to speak out against anything prejudice or politically related for a fear of losing their jobs. They should not fear losing their jobs over simply having an opinion.
Jackie Robinson changed the game of baseball forever by taking a huge step for African Americans by being the first black baseball player to make it into the pros. He broke the color barrier in the MLB and took part in a silent protest by not singing the National Anthem when he had to stand for it before games. He was also well-known for his poise and composure on the field regardless of the atmosphere and attitude in the crowd. Robinson was victimized by white baseball fans nationwide and adored by black baseball fans nationwide. He was scrutinized for simply just playing baseball. He remained a firm believer in a man who has the courage not to fight should do just that. Never advocating for violence.
NBA and WNBA teams decided to break the dress code of their organizations to show their support of Black Lives Matter movement and protesting against police brutality. The first time the NBA did this they were shirts that noted the last words of Eric Garner before dying at the hands of a Staten Island officer. The shirt had statements such as “I can’t breathe”, “change starts with us”, “justice & accountability” written on the front and back of them. By breaking the dress code of the NBA and WNBA, these players that participated in the silent protest were fined hundreds and thousands of dollars. This was not the only occasion that players spoke out on matters important to them on the platform that is the NBA.
Back in August of 2016 is when Colin Kaepernick first decided to kneel during the National Anthem. His message behind this form of action was to protest police brutality. Slowly other NFL players began to join his movement and kneel during the national anthem. His teammate, Eric Reid, sincerely supported Kaepernick’s beliefs by being the first of many other NFL players to join him in kneeling. Their beliefs were that they would not physically or hypothetically stand for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Kaepernick was willing to give up his football career to continue expressing his ethical beliefs without receiving such scrutiny from his job. He gave up a contract for millions of dollars because he believed this movement against police brutality was bigger than anything else. Recently, his face has become the face of Nike and they have been showing their support for the movement that he believed in. Nike lost a lot of customers to making Kaepernick their face, but this action conveyed a silent protest towards to the social injustices of today.
Overall, players should have the freedom to petition anything they desire without receiving backlash. They should not have to fear going unemployed by showing passion in something that is important to them. What these protests have been centered around are inequality and injustice, which are things that should not exist in our society. Our right to speak freely is a basic human right that cannot be taken from us and should not be taken from us. Players deserve to have their own opinions without receiving judgement and criticism from others. This basic human right is supposed to keep us honest and humble with one another.