A simple albeit complicated question: If MLK, Jr., were alive today…what would his Twitter posts following this past couple weeks’ events look like? They most certainly wouldn’t resemble what is being espoused online by today’s athletes.
If comparing MLK, Jr. to modern athletes seems an unfair comparison, the latter should question the end goals they are seeking via online personas and in recent history. Most would reason that strong opinions on social and political matters begets awareness and unity. I would argue they are unintentionally promoting division and cognitive dissonance.
This is not to dismiss or condone perceived wrongdoings in society. Rather to call to light the role athletes can and should adopt in remedying them. That is to bring individuals together, to employ their gifts and entertainment vehicles as a means of discourse. To embrace roles as safe bridges for those of differing opinions to unite around.
Instead, so many athletes continue to see their purpose as guideposts for the masses. That social media affords them – without consequence – an earned soapbox. That the masses – overwhelmed by fear and anger – want them to adopt this role. In all fairness and if ones asks said masses, they will likely decry for athletes to speak of opinion that they share. While isolating those in disagreement, and worse. But prisoners do not ask for freedom…they want revenge against those who put and keep them in that position.
The endless echo chamber of modern mass and social media believes that censoring dangerous – in actuality, competing – voices is for everyone’s best interests. And that athletes should shepherd in this reality.
Athletes are ideals of what we see in ourselves, what we want to be and become. They should not be mouthpieces of virtue signaling rather emblematic of what a better discourse looks like. Do not abuse or abandon this privilege. So many are counting on you…and are vulnerable. We need you now more than ever.