Written By: Jamir Harris
As November 3, 2020 approaches the citizens of the United States of America are casting their votes to crown the country’s leader for the next four years. Reasons vary on why people choose to vote, however, more times than not the reason behind the vote tally will go unnoticed.
The black lives matter movement in sports has taken the nation by storm. Players on professional teams of all major leagues have decided to use their platforms to promote change for social injustice and police brutality. At the forefront of it all, the professional athletes feel that the best way to fight for change is for all supporters and members of the black community to vote.
“As an African American man, I feel it is important to vote because our voices throughout history tend to be silenced and voting can allow our voices to be heard. said 11-year NBA veteran Randy Foye.
Foye mentioned his decision to vote is also an act of thanks and appreciation for the generations and ancestors before him, who lost their lives to give the African American community the right to vote.
For the African American community, voting isn’t just simply having a personal pick of who will be the next leader for the United States of America. Voting presents an opportunity for African Americans to prove they matter and that their influence is vital to society.
“We’re forgotten about a lot and we need to hold elected officials accountable to let them know that our skin color matters, my life matters and I refuse to be oppressed in every situation that I’m in.” said Foye.
Social injustice and police brutality have plagued the black community for centuries. As time passes the systemic racism present continues to make it difficult for African Americans to succeed and prove they deserve the same level of respect as the white community.
Systemic racism empowers social injustice and discrimination which ultimately results in a constant battle for respect. The energy and effort expended on fighting for equality is laborious. African American pro athletes realize how voting is imperative toward establishing their worth as African Americans and they also have the platform to do so.
Members of the black community without the platform and worldwide support, may not be as confident in their ability to stand up and establish the significance of their actions and of their voices.
“We as black professional athletes need to encourage those who don’t want to vote or speak up to do so, because at the end of the day if you don’t act your presence as a black man or woman will not be recognized.” said Kaleb Bishop of the BC Beroe Pro Basketball Team In Bulgaria.
As an athlete it requires determination, patience and courage to be successful in sport. Professional athletes feel the same requirements are necessary to bring change for the black community.
Determination to stand strong against social injustice. The patience to handle failure and keep pushing forward. Lastly, the courage to speak up regardless of those who say your voice doesn’t matter.
“We can’t be numb to the injustices that are happening within our community, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but we have to keep fighting.” said Bishop.
Most people on the outside looking in will never realize the true scrutiny that professional athletes go through on a day to day basis. Not only are these professionals scrutinized on the playing field, but they are also scrutinized for the efforts outside of their sport. On the playing field, critics say these athletes aren’t good enough. Off the playing field, critics want athletes to stay in their lane and do only what they’re known for.
“In a lot of ways people try to just see us as entertainers and say we should just do that and not talk about politics.” said Tyus Battle of Einsey of Siberia’s Pro Men’s Basketball Team.
News anchors and politicians often attack athletes for voicing their opinions on politics. However, Battle urgently feels these days need to be over.
“It’s unfortunate that every black person will go through some form of social injustice in their lifetime which should never be the case.” said Battle.
“We have to support each other; help build each other’s businesses which will ultimately help build our communities and we have to vote to help us get the change we want.” said Battle.
Black professional athletes refuse to shut up and dribble or simply just stay in their lane. There is strength in the fight of the African American community and there is power in every black voice. The black community demands to be heard and for that reason every signature on a ballot will always be more than just a vote.