Stephen Curry has chance to join pantheon of great sports activists

TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 14: Stephen Curry /

Stephen Curry has spoken up about social justice issues, opening the path for him to bring about change and join other iconic athlete activists.

Sports have become such an important part of our society, both in terms of culture and society. At the end of the day, though, they are just games. Real life will always be bigger than field goals and points. The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry knows this.

For many, sports are an escape from the harsh realities of everyday life; athletes and fans alike use sports to distract themselves from the world around them. Despite that, there are times where it’s impossible to separate politics and sports. In fact, they need to come together.

Athletes, despite their wealth and fame, are still human beings. Regardless of their resources, they can’t change their gender or the color of their skin. They are still susceptible to bigotry.

Serena Williams is one of the best, if not the best, tennis player ever and she is attacked for her looks. Anytime an outlet like Bleacher Report posts about the WNBA, the replies are full of sexist remarks about the world-class women athletes. LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was at the center of a racial hate crime.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem, a silent protest in opposition to racial injustices. It sparked outrage amongst those that refused to understand his experiences as a black man in America. It also led the charge and energized many of his colleagues to follow suit, despite the fact that he’s essentially been exiled from the NFL.

The NFL has been in the center of all of these protests. There have been some NBA players–namely LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul–who have taken stands against racial oppression. It’s a great start and the Banana Boat crew has done an amazing job, but there’s still more work to be done.

The whole Association needs to buy in. In order for there to be widespread change, there needs to be widespread mobility. Right now, the country needs leaders.

Stephen Curry took one of the biggest stands possible in opposition to Donald Trump and his administration. He decided to break protocol. He made it very clear that he was going to go against a tradition that he himself participated in just two years ago by declining a visit to the White House.

As expected, Trump decided to take time out of his day to tweet about Curry. He proclaimed that the two-time MVP was no longer invited to the White House. Though the superstar guard had already made it clear that he had no interest, the former reality TV star had to have the last word.

Curry made the first move. LeBron James followed it up with his own tweet of support for Curry and resistance against Trump. They got the ball rolling and the rest of the sports world got involved.

Athletes have a lot to lose by taking political stands. They can miss out on endorsements and opportunities. In the most extreme cases, like Kaepernick, they can lose their jobs. Ultimately, if an athlete–especially a black man–speaks up, the detractors aim to hurt their wallets, further perpetuating the type of economic oppression that the athlete is opposing.

With so much at stake, no one can force a player to sacrifice everything, even if it’s for justice. It’s what makes the battles that sports icons in the past have fought even more impressive. Even the greats risked everything.

Guys like Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Carlos, and Tommie Smith have established themselves as some of the greatest sports activists this country has seen. Colin Kaepernick is there now, too. LeBron James is well on his way.

Steph Curry has the chance to join that elite group. He doesn’t necessarily need a physical protest, like Kaepernick, Carlos, and Smith. His voice is powerful and he can use that to spread his message.

Curry, fortunately, has financial stability. He just inked a deal that was the richest in league history at the time of the signing. He’s an elite player that is far too important to his team and the league for him to be out of a job.

He has given his opinions on issues before, but he’s really turned it up regarding a potential White House visit. If he unites with James and other outspoken NBA stars and continues to fight for social justice solutions, then he will rightfully join the pantheon of sports icons who chose to fight for issues that were bigger than sports. More than just earning widespread respect and establishing his legacy, he can help bring real change.

Curry got Trump’s attention. As a result, he got the whole world’s eyes on him, which can honestly be quite frightening. But it is also special, especially when you see how the sports world poured in support for the two-time champion.

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Curry built off what Kaepernick and James have started working on. In the past, he’s been, at times, hesitant to talk about certain issues, even if he eventually gives his opinions. Lately, he’s gone all in. As one of the greatest basketball players ever, people will listen to him talk.

Steph Curry has led his team to two championships. Now, it’s his time to step up as a leader for the world, stepping up with Kaepernick, James, Martellus Bennett, and others into the shoes of the icons before them. He has revolutionized the game of basketball; he now has the chance to change the world.