More than ever before, professional athletes are voicing their opinions and drawing attention to causes that benefit society.
It can’t be denied that these individuals have a high level of influence—particularly on the youth—and they’re attempting to use their power to galvanize others into taking action.
People from all walks for life have had a chance to observe their recent activism. One of those people is none other than Barack Obama, the 44th U.S. President.
Making an appearance on HBO‘s “The Shop,” Obama praised NBA and WNBA athletes for their leadership in the racial justice movement, citing the decision to postpone games after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Here’s what Obama had to say regarding the NBA and WNBA’s leadership as activists:
“When you think about the history of African-American athletes, dating back to Jack Johnson the boxer; and then you’ve got Jackie Robinson; you’ve got Muhammad Ali; you’ve got folks like Bill Russell in the NBA; Arthur Ashe in tennis.
“And then for a while I think there was a suspension of activism because I think for a time, the African-American athlete started thinking in terms of contracts, money, shoe deals, etc.
“To see this new generation without fear in speaking their mind and their conscience, I think you guys are setting the tone for a lot of young people coming up and a lot of other athletes in other leagues.
“Because we saw what happened after Milwaukee and the NBA players did what they did. WNBA players, you started seeing soccer players, you started seeing NFL players doing stuff, baseball. You guys really showed leadership on this in a way that deserves a lot of credit and made me real proud.“
While LeBron James is usually considered the leading voice of the NBA when it comes to significant societal matters, the past few months have seen a notable amount of players publicly advocating for reform and advancing human rights while denouncing xenophobic behaviors.
Consequently, the NBA continues to be seen as the most progressive professional sports league. WNBA players have been long been staunch activists and continue to set the tone for change.