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Athletes Give Their Two Cents On Ferguson

By Matt Rogers

As we all know by now, there was a tragic event that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9 of this year. The event was the shooting death of an unarmed man named Michael Brown by a Ferguson Police officer, Darren Wilson. Since this happened, there have been countless riots and protests against not only the police officer that shot Brown, but the police force as a whole.

On November 25, it was determined that the officer that shot, and killed, Michael Brown will not be indicted on criminal charges for the incident. This has received tons of media coverage because of the implications of what may come as a result of the decision to not indict the officer. Riots have proceeded in Ferguson. Burning of police cars, arson and vandalism of public building, and police standoffs have raged on.

Not only has this tragic event received extensive media coverage, it has caught the eye of many other public figures, including many athletes. Twitter has been blowing up with tweets from athletes about the decision. LeBron James, maybe the most recognizable athlete on the entire planet, tweeted that “it hit home”, but he also noted that “violence is not the answer”. Matt Barnes, a forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, tweeted that it is “okay to kill people…. as long as the person being killed is of color & the person behind the trigger has a badge”.

These opinions expressed by these two NBA athlete definitely imply that they are not happy with the decision handed down not to indict officer Darren Wilson, a white man, that killed Brown, a black man.

In my opinion, although I do agree with some of what the athletes are tweeting and saying, I do not agree with the way that they expressed their thoughts on the subject. I believe that the subject is worthy of much more than a 160 character tweet. I also believe that athletes too often take to social media to express their impulses, but given the way things are in today’s society, social media seems to have become the most popular way for people to express their inner thoughts and beliefs.

The expansion of social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, has resulted in too many “foot in mouth” moments because people (athletes) often post off impulse rather than thinking through what they are actually saying or posting. I am also a firm believer that athletes should be more aware of what they say on social media because one of their obligations as role models for children is to exhibit composure in adverse situations. What James said did not come off as offensive, but what Barnes posted could have been something that a large number of people could have taken offense to.

I was nowhere near Ferguson, Missouri the day that this shooting occurred. I do not know what lead up to the shooting or why Wilson felt threatened by Brown. I do know that sensationalism is something that is abundant in media coverage, especially today, so certain parts of stories are made from nothing. I suggest that athletes offer little to no public thoughts on situations like this one on social media. If they want justice, like the rest of us, they should let the public hear the word come out of their mouths. It should not be that hard for LeBron James to find a camera to voice his thoughts to, the press is constantly looking for anything new from King James.