It seems that all the media portrays about sports recently are athletes protesting and speaking out about social injustices in our country. With this being said, some fans are entirely behind the athletes and are supportive of it, while other fans believe that these athletes should focus on the sport that they play. Whether you support the athletes who are speaking out and demanding change, or against it, there is no denying that athletes speaking out on matters that are important to them is not a new trend.
Throughout the history of sports in America, athletes have been making political and social stances on topics and using their stage as an athlete to promote that change.
One of the most memorable instances is when two black American track athletes used their literal stage, the medals podium, at the 1968 World Olympics. These two athletes still remain are a symbol today for black power and a rallying cry for justice in the Black community. These two athletes were named Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The two of them decided that when the national anthem was played that they would both raise their fists and lower their heads in solidarity for the Black community in America. These two were received with a lot of dislike and dismay for their actions and were seen by many Americans as unpatriotic. It took a while for the World to view Tommie Smith and John Carlos positively but in the past twenty years, they have been honored by awards and by statues.
Another instance that is held widely as famous is another example of an athlete protesting. However, this protest was not about race, it was about religion and freedom of expression and belief of that religion. This athlete’s name was Eric Liddell and was famously portrayed in the book and movie titled “Chariots of Fire”. Liddell is famous because of his success as a runner in the 1924 Olympics but also, because of his protest that came in the form of refusing to compete on Sundays. Because of Liddell’s Christian faith, he did not believe that it was right for him to run on Sundays because, in his mind, it was “The Lord’s Day, not his”. This belief and protest, in a way, was applauded by many, but also brought a lot of criticism to Liddell.
Finally, in today’s current sports climate athletes have a bigger platform than ever before. Ranging from athletes using their social media to encouraging others to vote to the walkout of NBA games just this past August, protesting the rise in prevalence of police brutality in the U.S, they are using it to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.
So, although it seems that there has been a new trend of athletes using their athletic platform to speak their minds, it actually could not be further from the truth. Athletes for over 100 years have been using their platform to enact change, whether it be for their beliefs on religion or equality. Athletes then and now have been using the athletic stage to display to the World their true beliefs.