For years, sports were all about the spirit of competition, and were an escape from the turmoil and strife of daily life. Fans flocked to stadiums and were glued to their televisions, watching for the next long touchdown pass instead of watching for the number of casualties in a terrorist attack in Europe. Now, as fast as a buzzer-beating shot is hoisted, the world of sport and politics has suddenly collided.
What once was an escape from politically charged messages and activism has now become a hotbed for statements and voicing opinions. After Colin Kaepernick took the simple action to kneel during the Star Spangled Banner, all bets were off.
Players across multiple leagues are using their public exposure to promote social change. Athletes who are plastered across our televisions have started to use their sway in public opinion to shine light on the topics they feel most important. While the message is nothing more than an act of freedom of speech, the response has been mixed at best.
Some fans have been supportive of the acts of protest, while others are condemning the actions as disrespectful and childish. Most athletes agree that they are merely trying to bring attention to the issues that would normally be ignored while fans focus on the game being played before them.
The timing of these actions is far from coincidence. It took one of the most heated debates and the rise of social unrest to cause athletes to start taking a stand. After years of silence, the newfound attitudes by players on teams of every venue might soon make their time on camera a time to promote change. The effects are unclear, but if the recent ratings for the NFL are in correlation with the stands, then sports might have to brace for a severe lack in revenue.