In the past couple of years, the American public has sought to define exactly how the function of sport contributes to society as a whole.  

From the behavior of athletes during the national anthem to how they address social issues, it seems that everyone has an opinion on how these larger than life figures should conduct themselves in what the public considers “customary patriotism.”  

In the latest challenge of the free speech of athletes, Laura Ingraham, Fox News Host recently made some very controversial comments stemming from Cleveland Cavaliers Forward LeBron James and Golden State Warriors Forward Kevin Durant appearance on “Rolling With the Champion” hosted by ESPN’s Cari Champion.

As part of the show, Champion drives James and Durant and it equates to a mobile interview.  They address President Donald Trump and his behavior in office along with a few more issues with the President.  

Both have been vocal about their displeasure of the commander-In-chief, staying that his comments were “laughable and scary” amongst other criticisms.  Ingraham addressed the comments on her show and made the following comments,

“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. … Shut up and dribble.”

Now, of course, the response was swift and brutal because it echoed of “dog-whistle” speech to her audience but it begs to question of just how much the public wants our professional athletes to address social and political issues.  

James went on to dismiss Ingraham’s diatribe, however no one should be surprised by her commentary. This is the same person that wrote the book, “Shut Up and Sing,” addressing how Hollywood should stay out of politics.

However, this time I do not see the criticism of NBA coaches who have made the same kind of statements…..that happen to be white.  

This is not a new phenomenon, as athletes, especially black athletes, have integrated leagues and used their platforms to bring awareness to causes.

Without being politically astute, change would not come, so Ingraham’s notion that James and Durant should “just shut up and dribble” is preposterous.

Furthermore, the thought that you trade in your ability to speak because you get paid a certain amount of money is incredibly dangerous and quite frankly…stupid!  

It reeks of a “sharecropping mentality” where the attitude is “shut up because I pay you”.

The debate behind just how much athletes should be involved in politics will continue to be a hot button issue.  From Muhammad Ali, to Jackie Robinson, to Jim Brown, to Colin Kaepernick, athletes have taken stances in the name of bring awareness to the “status quo.”  

His or her opinion is just as viable as anyone else who has taken a stand, regardless of his or her tax bracket.  

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