Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is more required of black male superstar athletes?

Yahoo! NFL blogger Doug Farrar summarized an interesting article Out.com did on Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is an outspoken supporter of same-sex couples having the right to be married. Kluwe definitely adopted a clear position on what is a contentious issue in American society today. Many athletes refuse to wade into political battles for fear of losing endorsements, popularity, etc. (Farrar did mention the Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo as a supporter of same-sex marriage, while Kluwe’s former Vikings teammate and Ayanbadejo's current teammate center Matt Birk opposes same-sex couples having the right to be married.) Toward the end of the article, Farrar touched on the backlash that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan receive for staying apolitical. This raises an interesting question: Why should prominent black male athletes be the ones who have to speak out? I have heard scant calls for Peyton or Eli Manning to take social stands. Nil for Aaron Rodgers. Same goes for last year’s National League MVP Ryan Braun. There is a romanticization in mainstream media with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith? These men, along with many women, have gone against the grain to say what’s in their hearts and change the social landscape. But why do LeBron James and other black male stars have to carry this legacy and not prominent athletes in general? I write this warning of a little buyers’ remorse: Perhaps if more athletes do speak out, those “social activists” may not like what they hear. -- Steve Bien-Aimé

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