There was a time in our history that professional athletes were some of the most involved citizens in the current issues of the day. They used their name and their stature to call their fans' attention to topics that might not otherwise be familiar.
Today, however, it seems professional athletes try to stay as far away from social activism and politics as they can. Following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan who once said, "Republicans buy Nike too," modern day athletes are more concerned about gaining/losing commercial endorsements than they are about bringing change to their communities.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think ALL professional athletes should be involved in social issues. Quite frankly, not all of them are informed enough to add anything to the discussion. Some, in fact, might do more harm than good. Yet another similarity they share with everyday citizens, I might add.
However, it is refreshing when professional athletes--especially younger ones--take the initiative to get involved or, at the very least, expand their perspectives.
New Orleans Hornets forward Tyson Chandler recently attended a Barack Obama rally in Indiana. He wrote about the experience on his nba.com blog. Here's an excerpt:
He's just one of those dudes who comes off so poised, calm and just touchable. I've never felt like a Presidential candidate was touchable, that you could actually sit down and have a conversation with him. But with Obama, I feel like I'm in touch with him, like I understand what he's talking about.
I've watched debates in the past, and I never knew what was going on. I never realized what the President was talking about. But Obama breaks it down so that I can understand, my grandparents can understand, anybody can. He bridges the gaps and brings everybody together.
I was sitting at the rally yesterday and I saw this older black gentleman with a camcorder. He had grey hair and he was recording it. I was just watching him and he looked so proud. It looked like he was gonna record it and go back, show his grandchildren and say "I was here on this day."
And next to him were some older white ladies, who when Obama was making his speech, were jumping up, screaming and raising their hands. So, I was thinking, "Wow, look at that." You had different nationalities there, different ages and different genders, and everybody was there for the same cause. We haven't seen this in a long time. And it was just a great thing to be a part of.