Athletes from Abroad May Be More Adept at Public Opinion

February 28, 2009

In William C. Rhoden’s Sports of the Times column in the NY Times on Thursday, Rhoden introduced the idea that NBA players chose to look the other way when they were faced with issues that are political in nature. According to the columnist, seventy-five percent of NBA players are African-American and he was disappointed in those players in particular. He felt that their enthusiasm throughout President Obama’s presidential campaign should have been replicated during the outcry concerning the racially-charged cartoon which ran in the NY Post last week.

In defense of the Post, they officially apologized; however, they felt that the meaning of the cartoon was misconstrued. Not to belabor the point of whether the cartoon was racially motivated or just a simple case of a bad joke gone awry, I will attempt to explore Rhoden’s introduction into this very sensitive topic. For arguments sake, we can say that the other twenty-five percent of the NBA’s athletes are made up of foreign-born players mixed in with Caucasian-Americans.

At this point, you are probably wondering why anything pertaining to the NBA is being discussed on a NY Mets blog. After dissecting Rhoden’s column, I thought of Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado, as a Toronto Blue Jay, defiantly staying in the dugout during the playing of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. Delgado, at that time, was opposed to the use of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico as a bombing target practice facility by the United States Department of Defense.

In Rhoden’s assessment, Delgado exercised exactly what a man with some clout should do. Perhaps, one could say that piggy-backing a cartoon as a chance to voice your own opinion could seem a bit childish. In Delgado’s case, his threat was a tad more imminent. The crux of the matter is that American athletes may not feel a sense of urgency as much as their foreign counterparts do when asked to voice their position.

One speculation for the lack of public opinion may be that our nation’s athletes now reside within an economic stratosphere that shares no relation with the majority of their constituency. Quite simply, they can’t relate. To project a strong opinion just to exercise one’s God-given rights may place a particular athlete in unfamiliar territory.

As the preliminary rounds of the World Baseball Classic are set to begin on March 5th, sixteen teams from all over the world will be competing for the duration of three weeks to see who the ruler of the baseball world is. This competition could be seen as a way for Americans to satisfy their craving for our national pastime. The rest of the world will be eager to utilize the Classic as a political platform to help elevate those who share in a similar struggle.

For foreign athletes who participate in American-based sports, the motivation to express one’s personal opinion embodies virtue and honor. Their platform will be more accepted than scrutinized.

To read Rhoden’s original article click here,
On Some Subjects, Athletes Prefer a Silent Approach

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