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Should Black Athletes Be More Politically Knowledgeable?

Should Black Athletes Be More Politically Knowledgeable? | Photo: Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images
Should Black Athletes Be More Politically Knowledgeable? | Photo: Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images

We are about six months away from the 2024 presidential election. What lies before us is a rematch for the ages between President Joe Biden and Former President Donald Trump. Living in the information age that we do, we consume information through more mediums than ever. Like it or not, even the entertainers on our screens can sway folks’ ideologies. It isn’t a task that anyone is asked to take on, but I do think it comes with the territory. So that brings us to athletes. They can play a huge role in igniting the consciousness of younger generations politically. Whether they take on that task or not, there still can be effects.

I harken back to the 2020 election, which at that time, was the most important election ever. Seemingly, every election these days is monumental to the fate of our civilization. As much as it may seem hyperbolic, with someone like Trump on the ticket, it isn’t farfetched to imagine. Anyway, it was in 2020 when I learned that my favorite player of all time, Shaq, was voting for the first time ever. Maybe it was crazy for me to be surprised by that. In hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have been. People of affluence seem to be mainly shielded from a lot of the ills that certain legislation can have on the working class. So if their reality isn’t impacted tangibly, then what the heck right?

Photo: Noel Vasquez/GC Images via Getty Images
Photo: Noel Vasquez/GC Images via Getty Images

What was insightful from some of Shaq’s comments was that he mentioned he “never understood the electoral college system.” That’s a fair point. That mechanism does need explanation. It’ll also spur commentary on gerrymandering as well. What’s glaring is that Shaq could cite not having that system explained to him at 48 years old at that time. Shaq, someone who holds a doctoral degree, never sought out this knowledge on his own. That’s a problem. It’s a problem because damn near all of the decisions we make daily are political decisions. It’s a dance, and it’s a give and take, but having some foundational knowledge will help immensely.

Millions of people watch sporting events daily. I don’t seek to get political counsel from these shows, but in the event that things venture into that realm, it helps to have a nuanced understanding of how this whole system works. Money might be a cure for a rich person personally, but it’s not foolproof. Your money won’t keep you or your children from being racially profiled. The rights women have over their bodies in their families are still at the whims of the state they live. None of us can truly afford to be politically disengaged. We have to seek ways to make strategic decisions, even if on the surface it seems like we’re making a lateral vote. The future will show that you probably haven’t.

I use Shaq as an example here because he is a great example of the microcosm of the professional athlete. It takes people with platforms, to use those platforms diligently. There is no diligence without knowledge. There is no strategy without knowledge. And in such a pivotal election, where we have an opportunity to get close to a reality we want after a second Biden term, we can’t but fumble this.

I tip my hat to all athletes who do have the disposition they have a real voice in their communities. Shout out to those who use it for the progression of our people, which will benefit all people. I know we have real frustrations with the current administration, and we should continue to hold their feet to the fire. But please pay attention to which side you believe will hear us out versus not. We have to learn to master the system we do have before we begin another. Let’s make changes from the inside out. It’s a necessity.