Tim Crone: Athletes have a right to voice opinions

By Tim Crone
Special to The Examiner
Tim Crone

The sports world reflects our society. Over the past two weeks it has once again turned into an “us against them” topic.

All sports have boycotted in the name of social justice. Many feel athletes should not be involved. Sports have set an example of unity for the betterment of all.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke into Major League Baseball, which opened the door of opportunity for participation to everyone. During the turbulent 1960s, sports figures Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and many others took a stand on civil rights. That torch was passed to sports figures like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the ’70s.

Sports is and always will be a part of social history, and sports figures hold a special place in our society. A friend confronted me about my opinion and told me they should “just” play sports and he would no longer follow them.

That is also a choice.

Athletes, like everyone else, have a right to an opinion and should be able to express that opinion in a sane and proper forum, and non-athletes can choose whichever direction is best for them. To limit all athletes to dribbling, throwing a ball, running fast or jumping high is plain wrong.

One of my favorite coaches in sports history who knows why was Raiders coach John Madden. I cannot stand the Raiders, but I liked Madden because he always made sports-sense to me. He once stated, “If there is a time when you’re going to be angry, then you’re going to be angry. And if you feel that way and let it go by, then you’re being a phony. If I get angry, it’s for a good reason, either for an action or as a reaction. The same applies when I’m happy.”

Athletes do have a unique platform and there is nothing wrong with them using that platform to express their opinions. History has proven that sports have really provided an especially important avenue for positive change in our society.

They do have a responsibility to remain positive. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ comments about the position of sports were heartfelt and positive.

Change can be an awfully slow process but the desire for that change should not be ignored. If we do not find a way to come together as a group we are doomed to losing all the positive life lessons taught through sports.

Great championship teams and athletes are successful because they are willing to understand their teammates and work together for a common cause.

• The quote of the week come from a Swiss philosophical essayist Henri Frederic Amiel: “He who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no ideal, no real standards – such a man is a mere article of the world’s furniture – a thing moved, instead of a living and moving being – an echo, not a voice.” 

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.