Athletes and activism

By William Allen

Conservative media pundit Laura Ingraham tweeted that NBA superstar LeBron James should “shut up and dribble” after he publicly made politically charged comments.

Athletes like James, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick shined a spotlight on speaking out for a cause. They also paved the way and encouraged other athletes to speak their minds.

While it may seem like athletes are becoming increasingly vocal in the era of Donald Trump, on a local level some athletes have always been activists.

However, other athletes prefer to let their actions do the talking.

Earlier this year The Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry helped dedicate the 17th Habitat for Humanity home, since the April 27, 2011 tornado that killed as many as 65 people in the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham area, built by Nick’s Kids Foundation.

The houses have become tradition since the 2011 tornado, with a new one built whenever the Crimson Tide wins the national title.

And it’s not just college athletes.

Some local high school athletes say that teams who give back to their county, city and state show leadership and compassion for their communities.

“Apart from baseball, I volunteer at soup kitchens to give back to Tuscaloosa,” said Sam Browning, a first baseman for the Northridge High School baseball team. “The yearning I have for my community and city is due to the amount of opportunities it has provided me.”

This act of volunteerism by Browning shows how some athletes choose to give back to the community that helped raise them successfully.

Brandon Gallardo, a member of the Northridge soccer team, said when athletes speak out, whether using their words or their actions, it’s to make their community better.

It is crucial for people of all walks of life to understand that both physical and verbal actions are beneficial to society. While the professionals have the bigger platform, the high school athletes have a direct affect on whatever they choose to accomplish. So no matter how big of a reach an athlete has, they can always make a difference on any level.

“Giving back to my community and trying to spark a change has always been big for me, people like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick have shown me that I can stand up for what I believe in,” he said.