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Athletes playing platforms for politics

Noises surround you—chants, stomping, crying and laughing. Bright lights and colorful jerseys are in front of you. You devour anything your heart desires from foot-long hot dogs to overstuffed supreme nachos to pretzels on a stick. Your adrenaline is pumping as the clock ticks down, hoping your favorite team wins. When the game is over, you go home and wait to do it all over again the next week. 

 Many Americans admire sports and the professional athletes who play the game. These women and men are heroes to many teenagers and kids. Here are some examples of athletes who have received attention for their public stances.

Colin Kaepernick is a former NFL quarterback, not only known for his unstoppable plays on the field but also for his political activism—kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism against African Americans in the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Following Kaepernick’s lead, NBA stars Lebron James and Dwyane Wade took a stand for Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by a neighborhood crime-watch volunteer on Feb. 26, 2012. 

Both Wade and James posted pictures on their social media wearing hoodies in honor of Martin. 

“As a father, this hits home,” Wade said.

Tim Tebow, another former NFL quarterback, lost his job after numerous public statements about his faith and beliefs and the media frenzy that surrounded him. 

These athletes are only a few of the many public stances that have taken place on and off the field among professional athletic teams all around the country. 

However, not everyone is on board with these stances. 

President Trump criticized some NFL players at a 2017 rally, urging team owners to fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem. He guaranteed that “things will stop” if fans “leave the stadium” when players take a knee.

In 2018, a new NFL policy required players to stand for the national anthem. If players chose not to stand, they had the option to stay in the locker rooms and to come out after the national anthem.

Today in America, it seems sports are no longer simply games, instead, sports and politics are present together throughout the arena of athletics.