Athletes voicing their opinions in public has always been a highly debated topic. Some believe that athletes should keep their political and societal views to themselves while others believe they have the right to freely express their thoughts. Another example of this issue occurred last Sunday afternoon when five St. Louis Rams players made a “hands up” gesture to support the non violence protests taking place around the country in wake of the Ferguson Missouri controversy. According to an ESPN article, Jared Cook, one of the players involved, stated, “It’s a message worldwide that for young adults that you can protest and you can do things peacefully without getting out of line.” The players wanted to make it clear that they did not support the violence that took place during the riots in Ferguson.
The public response to this statement by the Rams players was very mixed. Through social media, some Rams fans threatened to stop supporting the team and even made threats to hurt the players involved. These people obviously didn’t agree with the appropriateness of the gesture and were willing to take extreme measures. The St. Louis Police Department also released a statement which asked the players to make a public apology and asked the NFL to discipline the players. On the other hand, in a CNN article, the Ethical Society of Police of St. Louis publicly commended the players for their support and believe they should not be disciplined for their actions. The difference in opinions on the gesture comes from a difference in views on the subject at hand. The fans and the police department feel differently about the events that took place in Ferguson than the African American organization that supported the cause. The people that disagree with the cause don’t want the players expressing their views, while the people that agree with the cause think it is good awareness.
Additional information on St.Louis Rams gesture
This addresses the question brought up in Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier’s article “Where Are the Jocks for Justice?” They discussed whether athletes should have the right to voice their own opinions about current events and political issues. It has been shown in the past that athletes who speak out on political topics are usually criticized and harmed financially. Athletes are looked up to by a diverse group of people as role models so their opinions could negatively affect their image. Athletes in the current day have much more on the line because they are making much more money than the average citizen. This has resulted in athletes being much more cautious when in front of the media. So should athletes be allowed to use their popularity to express views if they are willing to accept the consequences? I do believe that athletes have the right to make any statements they seem necessary because they have earned their followers interest for a reason. However, the athletes must understand the diverse beliefs of their fans and the repercussions that may follow.