The Intersection of Sports & Politics

With the current political climate, there is constant conversation about whether or not sports and politics should be discussed in the same sentence. From Colin Kaepernick and Nike to athletes like LeBron James speaking out against Donald Trump, it appears that sports have become a global platform to speak about politics. Some disagree with these conversations and believe that these athletes need to “shut up and dribble.”

I believe that sports are a great way to continue conversations about what is happening in the country and around the world. Athletes have a large audience to speak to about injustices they believe are taking place, and they also have the platform to “do good” and contribute to meaningful causes. Here are a list of 10 athletes who have used their platform to make a difference.

  1. Tina Charles: WNBA- She donated three years of her ENTIRE salary to her foundation, Hopey’s Heart, which works toward addressing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) by giving AED’s to institutions that can’t afford them.
  2. LeBron James: NBA- Lebron has promised roughly $41.8 million to students at his LeBron James Family Foundation so that about 1,100 kids could have a 4-year scholarship to the University of Akron. Most recently, he built his I Promise school, which is aims to give a good education to at-risk youth in Akron.
  3. JJ Watt: NFL- He fundraised over $37 million for victims of Hurricane Harvey. His foundation, the Justin. J Watt Foundation, also helps to raise money for after school athletic programs for middle school-aged youth.
  4. Colin Kaepernick: NFL- Colin has done more than speak out against police brutality towards black people in the United States. In 2016 he took a Million Dollar Pledge in which he promised to donate a million dollars to organizations that help oppressed individuals in various communities. That Million Dollar Pledge is now completed.
  5. Kevin Love: NBA- Love recently started the Kevin Love Fund, which aims to beat down the stigma of mental health issues. He wants to raise awareness and help offer resources to those who struggle with any mental health issues. In an article to The Players Tribune a few months prior, he publicly spoke about his issues with anxiety and depression.
  6. Peyton Manning: NFL- The Peyback Foundation was created by Manning to help create programs and opportunities for disadvantaged youth. His foundation has now provided over $13 million in grants and programs since it’s start.
  7. Mia Hamm: USA Soccer- Hamm created the Mia Hamm Foundation to help raise money for families who need a marrow or blood transplant. Her foundation also focuses on empowering young women in sports.
  8. Jeff Gordon: NASCAR- Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation was created to help join the fight against pediatric cancer. It aims to find cures, better treatment options, and continue research to help children who are diagnosed with any form of pediatric cancer.
  9. Doug Flutie Jr: NFL- The Flutie Foundation helps families affected by Autism live life to the fullest. They aim to help people with autism get the proper access to care and become more independent.
  10. Dikembe Mutombo: NBA- On top of spending $15 million on a hospital in Congo where he is from, Mutombo created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation. His foundation helps improve the health, education, and quality of life for the people living in Congo. He has contributed to a wide variety of other charities as well.

The next time you think about how athletes should “stick to sports,” consider that if they followed that logic, they wouldn’t be able to make the impact they have made. Instead of judging athletes for standing up for what they believe is right, donate to any of these 10 foundations/organizations linked in the above list and help make this world a better place.

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