Well, I never thought I would be going into this, but it is the news, and this is an opinion column so here we go. There are people rioting, protesting, and destroying cities right now in America. Sports figures are “using their platform” to speak out. Many or most seem to be sighting “Black Lives Matter” and the time for change is now here. In America, our right to free speech has not gone away, nor should it. In fact, it is a reason why America is a free country. Although, that word free seems to have a connotation to it right now. The Governors have taken freedoms away from the people. I do not want to share my views on all these things as this not the forum for that nor do you want to hear from a sports data guy about that stuff. What I do think is important is the athlete’s “platform” they have and use to get their messages out.
First off, an athlete is far less looked upon as a role model today than say 15 years ago or longer. Athletes need to be incredibly careful here. The movie stars, singers, and tv personalities have found out that even though they want to share their opinions to influence the public, they are far removed from the public. Athletes are going to find this out as well. Yes, they may play for someone’s favorite team or even be their favorite player, but in society today, there are sides! Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is not afraid to demean your thoughts or tear apart anything you do or say. Today’s athlete makes on average of $4.5 million dollars. The average salary for the American worker is $48,672 dollars. For perspective, an athlete will by an automobile for their parents that has more cost than the average worker will make in a year! The reason this is important is that the worker today has social media access. They are emboldened to thoughts and have no issue with verbalizing them in the Tweets or other forms of media. The athlete is now nearly as far out of touch with the day to day worker as the stars are. A platform of communication is for those who are experts in their field and have an audience that can grow, learn, and become better by listening. The athlete today is all about rhetoric and uses a pretense of “people need to hear what I have to say because I have this platform and I am important”. They are just so misguided.
There is no romance between the public and the player. It is the year 2020, not 1950! The romance of the leagues catering their players to the fans died a while ago. Players get arrested. They do drugs. They beat women etc. Sure, there are ones who don’t, but society has good and bad as well. The point of this entire essay is not enough people respect the athlete any longer and do not value their opinion. Athlete’s need to learn this. They need to be keenly aware of their audience, the lifestyle gap they have versus the public, and that the subject matter they are speaking of is not their main strengths. If a pitcher wants to speak about teaching the wind-up and throwing motion, then ok. But if they are trying to “use their platform” to engage the public by supporting something they have little expertise in, they are exposing themselves to ridicule. They are not the same as the public. They live a more privileged life and most often cannot relate to what the average guy or gal must go through to survive in life.
I don’t want to hear any more athletes speaking to and above the average worker. I don’t care what they have to say. I like them as players and understand their privilege. Don’t try to understand my life because we are not even remotely close to the same. Your views, opinions are allowed to be said because of our free speech rights, but I only want to cheer for you when you do something on the field. I only want to associate with my mentors, family, and friends for life advice. Real simple, STAY IN YOUR LANE!