Athletes take to social media over Ferguson Verdict

By Kaleb Page

Voicing our thoughts is something all of us do when it comes to something big happening in our country. No different is this period in time when the Ferguson case coming to a close brought on many reactions from not only people in the United States, but around the world as well. One thing I won’t get into specifics on is the case or the verdict itself, but one thing I will say is that this case and the end result will be around for a long time.

After the verdict was read, not only were everyday people like you and I taking to social media to look at the reactions, discussions and to voice opinions; athletes were doing it too.

Yahoo Sports and Sports Illustrated have screen shots of some athletes tweets in reaction to the verdict and the subsequent actions in the community of Ferguson. Now I know it is good that sports outlets cover the different aspects of news that involve athletes, and this is something to cover since there are prominent athletes speaking on a big social issue at the time in this country. However, I do find a problem in doing this and highlighting certain types of things said.

When a big name athlete with a lot of influence like Kobe Bryant says, “The system enables young black men to be killed behind the mask of law” or Serena Williams says, “Wow. Just wow. Shameful. What will it take???.” What type of role does that play in feeding on to the madness we have seen on social media and in the Ferguson community?

These athletes know they hold a lot of social influence whether it is fair or not. They definitely can and do spark thoughts for people by what they say. That is why for me personally I wish athletes would just stay away from subjects like these when it is still in the heat of the moment. Don’t get into the specifics, don’t try to incite more hostile reaction, if anything just do a simple neutral message. Tweets like the ones above however, just add to the quick actions by people who don’t give time to really think on it.

I know that is human to want to speak your mind on something out there, but like I said I don’t think that it is an athletes place to jump in on this issue especially on social media. I hope that these tweets and other social media outlet outpourings by athletes similar to Kobe’s and Serena’s don’t get publicized more than they already have. Because if there is one thing sport shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be a dividing factor on top of the many factors dividing us already.

Sport should be something that brings us all together no matter the race. I hope that athletes realize that before they post on this issue.

The video above is from ESPN First Take, and it looks at how athletes speak on social media about major issues. This video is primarily about when Ferguson just began and athlete reaction at that time. I recommend watching it all as it speaks to what I wrote above as far as reaction to the conclusion of this case (or start at 5:12 on the video).

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