Athletes have a platform that not many other citizens have in this country. They have their every word written down, and their every movement recorded. With such a platform, players can use it to make statements of their own beliefs, which always receives mixed reactions from the public.
Recently, 11 NFL players were supposed to go on a trip to Israel in an effort to give the Israeli government some good publicity for a change. The trip is all-expenses paid, but over the past few weeks, six players have withdrawn. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, was the first to drop from the trip and took to Twitter to explain why,
“I was not aware that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of goodwill’.
“I will not be used in such a manner. When I do go to Israel – and I do plan to go – it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives. I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”
What Bennett is doing here is taking a stand for what he believes in, even though most think his job is to just play football and keep his mouth shut. Bennett, being one of the more outspoken players in the NFL, like his brother Martellus, is no stranger to speaking his mind to the media.
Martellus is making a political statement of his own. He plays for the New England Patriots as a tight end and just won Super Bowl 51. Despite the customary trip to the White House for the Super Bowl Champions, Martellus, along with other members of the Patriots, has declared that he will not make the trip to the White House in protest of our current President.
The common reason amongst the Patriots players, who will not be going to Washington D.C., is that they do not feel that President Trump has treated African Americans equally during his campaign and throughout the infant stages of his presidency.
Patriots Cornerback Devin McCourty has even said, “I don’t feel welcome there.”
To no surprise, these players have received backlash for their decisions with criticisms that it is not their place to make a political stand as athletes.
Athletes, just like people of any other profession, have the right to express their views and are by no means obligated to do something that goes against their morals or personal beliefs. If the same logic were applied to everyone, this world would be filled with people following orders without question and without any sense of personal identity.
The players taking this stand are positive for the NFL, and are positive for society as a whole, showing that people with large platforms will use it to promote what they believe.