Most fans of NBA betting enjoy the sport because it provides a momentary relief from the mundane; getting stuck in traffic, having to meet quotas, or that annoying neighbor who will find anything to complain about. But sports wasn’t always about escaping boredom, sometimes it was an escape for rising social tensions or events people were reluctant to acknowledge. It would seem the days of NBA betting providing a momentary lapse of comfort are coming to an end as several NBA stars have made it their mission to be vocal about current affairs.
At the ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) on Wednesday night LeBron James led his colleagues on stage to address a change in athletes roll within the spotlight. In the past athletes were expected to “Stick to sports” and refrain from making social, or political, commentary due to a fear of offending fans and sponsors. While management made it clear that offending fans was completely out of the question, offending sponsors would result in the athlete’s pockets receiving the backlash. Whenever a professional athlete would align themselves would a specific moral or social outlook, their respective sponsors would cut ties. While many times it is clear why sponsors drop their athletes (Tiger Woods/Lance Armstrong) it would be comforting to see a company support athletes in their strive for social justice.
READ: NBA Stars Take A Stand Against Racially Incited Murders
James took the stage accompanied by Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade in an effort to bring to a close the age of “commerce over conscience”. Anthony was the first to speak and elaborated on why the players had decided to come forth. Anthony spoke about the current affairs within the United States, specifically on the social injustice that’s become commonplace, the distrust that’s brewing between different communities, and the anger and frustration that is burrowing its way into the American people.
“The system is broken. The problems are not new. The violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new.” Anthony stated during his time on the stage.
“But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”
History is not replete of outspoken athletes, but there have been a handful. Muhammad Ali, Jimmie Robinson, and Jim Brown – whose death-stare response to John Cena’s Cleveland joke was priceless, have all been civil rights activist within their times. After Anthony concluded, Chris Paul then spoke about becoming “the change we need to see” and unification within diverse communities. He listed the various killings of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, and cited it as their (African-Americans) reality. He then went on to list several athletes who have stepped up in times of need.
“The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop.” Wade stated once it was his turn to speak. “Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also, the retaliation has to stop.”
It is comforting to see athletes use their status to help address both sides of the problem, and speaking about it specifically. After Wade finished speaking, James then went on to speak about individual responsibility, and the need to pay homage to Muhammad Ali with actions instead of tributes.
Maybe NBA betting fans will seek a sportsbook to bet on whether these athletes will follow through with their promise, or if it was all cheap talk.