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Why Don't More Athletes Take A Stand? - 07.09.12 - SI Vault

Stashed in: Ethics, sports, Heroes!, Nike!, Michael Jordan, Morals, Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods took one step down that path, early in his career, in a Nike ad in which his words rolled on the screen—There are still courses in the United States I am not allowed to play because of the color of my skin. I've heard I'm not ready for you. Are you ready for me?—and, in the wake of a backlash, stopped there. Labor activists who requested Michael Jordan's support in their quest to improve sweatshop conditions and reduce child-labor abuse in the production of Air Jordans in Southeast Asia got none. "Moral jellyfish," Dave Meggyesy, a linebacker and antiwar activist with the St. Louis Cardinals in the '60s, labeled these athletes.

But scores of modern athletes, led by Woods and Jordan, create remarkable charity foundations, raise funds and donate millions. Taken one step further—watered with an investment of time and heart nearly equal to the money—a miracle such as Andre Agassi's academy for at-risk children in Las Vegas has bloomed in the desert. But when it comes to social action that might step on toes, that might send a shiver down the spine of their publicists or their corporate sponsors, what have American athletes done? "The scared generation," former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton calls them.

"They've put the dollar bill in front of the human race," grouses Carlos. "That's why they stopped standing up."

"They have to speak up," insists Harry Edwards, a track and field and basketball star at San Jose State in the early '60s who went on to become a sociology professor there and at Cal. "They're the most visible expression of achievement and financial success in this country. Actors in Hollywood have always been very outspoken. Athletes have surpassed them as the Number 1 entertainers; they should be at least as outspoken. Those who set the table that today's athletes are dining at, they exercised that responsibility. Now you have to get past an athlete's corporate and personal advisers, and so he's got to think what's in the best interest of Buick and Nike and Starbucks and General Electric."


This is a phenomenal read and should be required reading for all pro/college/Olympic athletes.

"The scared generation" is a good word for it.

Why are so many athletes these days afraid to take a stand?

Even after reading the article, I wonder.

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