Sports and the constitution

Throughout the sporting world, the playing field had become synonymous with a sacred ground. Athletes look to the field or court associated with their particular sport as an escape from reality; a place where they can go to get away from everything going on externally in their lives. That said, the playing field had been the focal point of the most often debated topic in sports nowadays. Professional athletes have been using the spotlight that a playing surface provides them to send out political messages based on their belief systems. The most familiar case scenario is Colin Kaepernick’s protests for racial equality which started in the 2016 NFL season. Kaepernick has become world renown for kneeling during the national anthem, to symbolize that African-Americans are not afforded the same privileges as their white counterparts. Although Kaepernick’s is by far the most famous example, there have been on-field protests going on for years now, but are finally starting to draw the attention they deserve. The playing field should not be kept free of any political acts or social statements because the players have the right to speak their minds.

As stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, all people have the right to freedom of speech. The only way the United States would succeed as a democracy would be if this remained true and everyone had the ability to voice their opinions in any and all social settings. SO why should this be any different today on the playing field? After all, professional athletes are still citizens of this country just like every student and professor at Skidmore College is, and they deserve to have the same rights that we benefit from on a daily basis. Being that they choose to protest on their playing field, they naturally will grab more attention for it because all eyes are on them regularly. Every move a professional athlete makes is caught on camera in multiple angles and analyzed under a microscopic lens. Therefore, it becomes quite apparent why so many people are debating the actions these same athletes decide to partake in when they are protesting before a game. What many fans from afar forget to realize is how humane these athletes are, even though their athletic abilities make them appear almost superhuman through the television screen. Yes, they are bigger, faster and stronger than your everyday person, but they too should have the ability to voice their opinions in a way that they feel will be heard and acknowledged across the world.

Another thing to take into consideration is the platform from which these athletes protest. To get where they are, professional athletes must devote their entire lives to their respective sport. It is all they know. Therefore, they should be allowed to use the platform that they worked so hard to attain to spread a message that they want to invoke. It is kind of similar to a politician on a campaign trail. The politician has worked extremely hard to gain a following and therefore can use this platform they created to voice their opinions. It should be no different for athletes and the playing field. If an athlete has spent his or her whole life training to be great at something and can reach the highest level in the world at what they do, there is no reason they cannot use their athletic success to springboard conversations they feel like need to have. That is precisely what Kaepernick was able to do with his protests, and it is clear how much more people are talking about this topic now than before he started protesting. These athletes possess power in society, so if they feel strongly about something, there is no reason they should not be allowed to voice it in an orderly manner on the playing field.

Many more detailed aspects go into this debate, but it is essential to take a step back and look at this issue on a grander scale. Professional athletes are human beings and citizens of America. They should and are afforded the same rights as everyone else living in this country. Therefore, there is not a single argument that can be made as to why these very athletes cannot use their societal impact to make a statement on the playing field they worked incredibly hard even to step foot on.


© 2017 Andrew Knight​