GRAPHIC BY YING YANG
BY VINCENT CORTES
Are most athletes dull and simple-minded? With the world’s eyes gazing upon them, should athletes publicly express their opinions?
Since the Boston Celtics won the 1963 National Basketball Association (NBA) Championships, it has been an American ritual for the winning championship team to visit the White House. However, on Aug. 17, in an interview led by ESPN’s staff writer Chris Haynes, the 2017 NBA champions Golden State Warriors’ (GSW) forward player Kevin Durant stated that he would not meet President Donald Trump in the White House. Not only does Durant disagree with President Trump’s political ideologies, but he also believes Trump is promoting a racial divide in America, as shown by his lack of action in response to the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Despite tradition, the White House has not yet formally invited the Golden State Warriors. In additions, the GSW’s coach, Steve Kerr has stated the members of the team are not obligated to attend the event. However, if Durant does not make an appearance he will defy the custom; the public will be outraged.
In addition, there is a handful of people who disagree with Durant’s statement. Not only do these opponents generally support Trump, but they also want to preserve sport tradition. As a result, many fans believe that Durant should not let his political views interfere with his career, since his extensive platform can influence the public’s opinion on Trump.
For example, Durant’s comment attracted the attention of the conservative, former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry. On Twitter, she states that Durant should accept an invitation to the White House and meet with Trump regardless of his political stance. In response, Durant mocked McHenry, disregarding her argument. By doing so, he shows strong belief in his opinions and will not surrender to society’s disapproval.
Despite the criticisms, Durant gained the support of many people. As a well-known athlete, his massive sphere of influence can inspire other athletes to publicly express their beliefs.
For instance, Durant’s fellow teammate, Stephen Curry, has shown support for Durant via Twitter, stating that he would not attend the traditional trip to the White House, either. Additionally, basketball legend Lebron James showed solidarity with Durant by voicing his disrespect for President Trump on social media, resulting in both support and opposition from fans.
Therefore, Durant shows he is able to confidently vocalize his political opinions and encourage others to express their thoughts despite pressures from the sports community. By using his large platform, Durant is standing up for what he believes in, while showing athletes their viewpoints can be heard. In the future, it can be predicted that individuals such as Kevin Durant and others in the sports world will continue to use their voices in order to fight for their beliefs, no matter the consequences.