Sports and Politics

Fascinating long piece exploring the ways that star athletes are translating their brands into political activism. Worth the time, but even though the article touches on race –how could it not given that much of the activism in sports is driven by issues facing black communities–it does have some moments that will give you pause, such as this one:

The most difficult thing, Blejwas had found, was getting people in D.C. to realize that Boldin and the others were capable of doing serious work. Before Boldin’s first appearance to give testimony in D.C., one person involved in setting up the hearing asked Blejwas, “Do you know if Anquan … can he read?”

“An NFL player can help achieve all these important objectives, and people will still be like, ‘Why don’t you just do a PSA?’ ” Blejwas told me. “It’s like, ‘No, we’re trying to do work. We’re not trying to get on TV.’ You can really move the needle if you just trust that this 32-year-old black man can read.”

Since it’s a piece of long-form journalism, the writer, Reeves Wideman, cannot stop and pause on the blatantly racist elements of white congressional worker asking if a football player is literate, but the question is breathtaking in its implications. First off, we view professional athletes as not intelligent even though the training to become a professional athlete requires it; if not, there wouldn’t be so many failed high school athletes who couldn’t make it at the college level or NFL players pursuing PhD’s in math from MIT. Secondly, the idea that someone would assume a black man in 2017 is not literate is a gut punch.

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