(Texas Public Radio) – The tragic deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police, and the subsequent grand jury decisions, have led to riots in Ferguson, Missouri and protests and “die-ins” across the country. It’s led to something else, increasing activism by the nation’s top athletes.
From the St. Louis Rams’ controversial “Hands up, Don’t shoot” pose going into a game following the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for any charges in the unarmed shooting of black teenager, Michael Brown, to the “I can’t breathe” warm up shirts that many leading black NBA stars are wearing, police violence against African Americans may have sparked a reemerging activist athlete.
With few exceptions, like the great Muhammad Ali, U.S. athletes in the 20th century have avoided commenting on societal issues.
While 60s and 70s saw a high water mark of athletic activism, in the past 25 years, professional athletes in the United States have been famously apolitical, making the front page far more for being irresponsible or behaving badly, than for speaking out on controversial topics.