Athletes, celebrities deserve personal opinions

Andrew Fulmer

One of my guilty pleasures is browsing through the comments section on ESPN. There, I have found some of the most moronic, uninformed, hilarious, thought-provoking and brilliant responses in history.

But, a common subject that has become prevalent in the past year or so is sports figure’s political opinions and the backlash these views cause among fans.

This is not limited to the common “stick to sports” reply in the comments section, either. Pundits from virtually every form of media have questioned this subject. A Forbes article even questioned should they have the right to voice those opinions.

I believe everyone has the right to voice his or her opinions publicly, much as I am doing now. It is a basic constitutional right.

What I am most intrigued about is the hypocrisy of society concerning the First Amendment.

There have been many instances of high-profile athletes making social or political stands over the past year. From athletes as well-known as LeBron James, to now well-known Colin Kaepernick, have made controversial statements that have polarized the sports fan community.

Every time an athlete makes headlines for political opinions, it seems like the majority of people criticize them for doing something other than being great at sports.

For example, when the Kaepernick controversy was still a hot topic, a friend on Facebook posted Kaepernick needs to shut up and do what he is paid to do. The person continued by saying athletes from this generation whine too much, and athletes never used to pull stunts like that (I guess they do not know about Muhammad Ali).

But the person who said this was far from a political analyst, yet not even an hour before had made a political post with a personal opinion.

So why do people want athletes to only be athletes? Why does society want people who specialize in only one thing?

A common argument is athletes have a large platform for society to hear them, but I do not think that holds much water. Opinions are opinions, and just that. Curt Schilling has made some comments in the past that I could not possibly disagree more with, but that does not change the fact that he was one hell of a pitcher to watch in his prime and one of my personal favorites.

People view celebrities, like athletes, as a luxury item they spend their money on to enjoy, much like an unnecessarily jacked-up 4×4 truck. People have placed athletes so high they do not see them as fellow people anymore. They just view them as fast machines that make loud noises and give them thrills on the weekends.

We as humans have the power to change this. Just as society has opinions, let athletes have theirs. After all, everyone is entitled to their own, including them.