Should athletes be advocates for the way we live our lives?

So there has been recent backlash over Australian test captian Pat Cummins who has recently advocated heavily for action on climate change. With people commenting that he says we need to limit our carbon footprint when he just placed $10 million on refirbishing his Victorian home, no solar panels either. Now this is not uncommon, in Australia maybe a little bit, but around the world particularly not. Athletes and Celebrities have decided to use their fame and stardom to deliver their points of view. Now it is human nature for people to express what they believe in, with these people having a wider scope of people who listen to them then of course they will speak up.

However, does it mean they should? Look in USA, when the George Floyd incident happened. MLB, NBA and NFL particularly took a stand against what was happening. Now i will not get into my views on that scenario as there will be hate no matter what side i take on it but i do behind the scenes have very strong views of how it represented in the media and brought upon in our lives. Anyway, sport which became our escape, the thing we looked forward to, the thing during this pandemic when jobs were lost, could not see loved ones and people were stuck in their homes sports were what kept alot of us sane. It is an escape from the real world, but when that escape then preaches what is happening in the real world to us then you begin to feel what is the point. Now, thankfully, sports in Australia are nowhere near what they are in terms of around the world on their social commentary. But with Pat Cummins speaking up and having the test team following his voice, does this change the tide in terms of the impact sports think they have on the country, the world and our lives?

Now i believe celebs, athletes, corporations and sports in general should shy away from their social commentary. Yes we live in a free speech society, though when people look upon these people as an escape on the world that they feel is perhaps falling apart, and those they look up to continue that narrative, it disheartens those who are looking for hope. The thing is too, celebs have been preaching for decades, yet they are still preaching, what does it tell you? the message is not getting through? well perhaps. Us everyday people love celebs (including athletes in that category), but when it comes to telling us what to do, we simply look the other way saying "well you are not like us, you have more money, access to a wider voice and connections to make massive changes". Look at Hilary Clinton in the 2016 US Election, what did she do to gather votes? bring up LeBron James and other celebs who have her support. What did Trump do? connect with middle America, promising to bring businesses and jobs back to America. Now not saying that was the main purpose of his election win but it helped, middle class people like to hear from people just like them. Not saying this talk should not be done at all, if people want to hear it they can on youtube or wherever it is around and people can access it, free speech means anything other than violence can be said freely, im fine with that. let those platforms do it not sports.

Also, i will preface, it could be bias what i am saying as i am right leaning in political ideologies, though do we all think this could become the norm in Australian sports? if it is would we like it? depends on how much they shove down our throats. The way people have acted over the women's game shows how other social commentary would go. Though i will say i understand why they do it, social commentary does not belong in sports as much as what it does, as what sports have become as an escape from what we hear in the news everyday, it should stay that way. Not saying not social commentary at all, but do not have it everywhere.

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  • Ah so much to unpack here and I usually shy away from getting involved in these discussions. I do thank you though for a very in depth piece. Whilst I don't get involved, I do follow. 
    My only take on the whole thing is that any person who puts athletes on a pedestal for being a torch to aspire to, obviously hasn't met too many athletes.

    On the flip side, who would want to be in the public eye these days ? With identity politics and cancel culture cutting swaths through the life of good people it will be harder and harder to navigate public life. 
    Take someone like Pat Cummins for example, whatever he says, he will offend someone and that someone will have the ability to express those views in an attempt to vilify him. Can't wait till someone uncovers that Pat once called a kid a f.gg.t when he was 8 years old and as such should be henceforth stripped of all captaincy's duties forthwith !!!

    Personally, I've never ever been suckered into giving much weight on the views of athletes or influencers into politics etc..

    Michael Slater had every right to criticise Scott Morrison but his crime was to believe that his view somehow carried more weight than your neighbour over the back fence. 
    Remember when Ben Affleck tried to take Sam Harris on regarding Radical Islam on the Bill Maher show ? Sam is a giant of free thought and is well versed in Islam whereas Ben is ... an actor. 

    At the moment to the common person, being a celebrity is absolutely everything but it's until you are actually in the public gaze that you realise that it's a soulless and unfulfilling exercise.
    When I was first interviewed on television, my kids got a real thrill. Later after many interviews and opinions my kids would always say - hey why did you say that ? Of course it's then you rage in anger because your words have been edited and spliced to appear you have said things that quite frankly, you didn't say and more importantly, there is nothing you can do about it! 

    I've been retired for many years now and I worry where it's all going. My grandkids sit me in a corner and say - give grandpa a blanket and lecture me on the evils of consumerism whilst sporting the latest iPhone and handbag. 
    Ok I've said too much, feeling like an old man shouting at a cloud! 

    • Well said Fathead. I understand it is better to not put any credance on what they say and these days media ask them about their thoughts on certain topics so i understand some of them answering truthfully. Though that is where i would prefer them to say my job is to play cricket not to say what should happen in the world. if they go to rally or discuss it on a show that prioritises that then i see that as ok as it is an opinion on a platform that is made for that. Let's at the B&G army festival they had the teams on stage and asking Moses about the season and then starts lecturing us on Climate Change, not time nor place to do it. However if he was asked to go on a podcast about climate change then i think that is different as he is expressing his views on a platform people want to hear about it.

      The issue to me is not having the belief, it is forcing the belief on others, we hear it enough in the news we can make our own decisions. 

      I do agree though FH, no matter what Cummins says it will be scrutinized due to his role now. But that is where you play middle ground and say it's not my place. Look at a movie guy i watch, he gets questions about politics and says he will discuss on his youtube show as it is for movies and movies only, that is how it should be for sports.

    • What a post Fathead. 

      "any person who puts athletes on a pedestal for being a torch to aspire to, obviously hasn't met too many athletes."

      This. 

      Rockstars are never held to be role models.... Why not?

      We take drugs and get drunk

      We take drugs and get drunk

      I like lookin at dirty pictures,

      I llike lying in bed with .......

      So....the same shit footy players do. But musos don't really try to hide it. Many use it for both muse and image purposes.  And their morals can  complete shit, but it don't matter. No one tells their kids to be like the rock star anyway. Footy players however pretend to be SuperGoodGuy for advertising/ sponsor funbucks. Everyone knows its bullshit but we play along......just don't get caught

      As for fame being hollow,....exhibit a,  Daniel Johns from Silverchair. He knows a thing or two about it.

      I wasn't going to post as typing on a phone while wasted is a torture for me, but dude if we don't shout the truth at the clouds how the fuck will they know? Great post

       

       

       

       

       

  • The only thing athletes, who have no other qualification or vocation, should have a public voice on is their particular sport and maybe health and fitness generally. 

    If you listen to an athletes view on anything else and give it any more weight than the average punter walking down the street, than you're an idiot. 

    • Well Tom Brady launched a brand promoting health shakes, like pre-workouts and some for mental health. Now you would listen to this as he was a professional footballer for 20 years, he would know about healthy living and how to have a good mental health and what helps, of course it wont work for everyone but you consider it plausible he knows mostly what he is talking about in that end.

      If he started talking about how climate is doing this and this then you start to zone out of course. It is human nature for us to discuss this stuff with out neighbours for example, but that is more so debating in putting our views together, we are not doing it for persuasion more so backing our views. Celebs do it for persuasion which rubs me the wrong way. Let us adults decide what is best and leave us be, if we are to change our mind or view on anything we will be able to figure it out and do it ourselves.

      • Yeah exactly I'll listen to Brady about health and fitness because he's a healthy guy. I don't care about what he has to say about most other things. 

  • in most cases, athletes during their careers are no more or no less educated on the happenings in this world than any of the punters in everyday life thus they have no real authority to speak out and lecture others on subjects that they are not experts in.

    All good for them to have an opinion, but when that opinion turns into lecturing and telling us what we should or shouldnt do, then that is where there is a problem.

     

     

  • Good blog LB. I don't know about them being "advocates", but because they're in the public eye often serving as role models with have plenty of money and social capital invested in them by others - there may be considerable consequences if they need to broadcast their opinions publicly. Realistically, they'll likely get reactions to their actions. Think Isreal Folau. 

  • Very interesting blog LB, and some very intersting replies so far. In response to Fatheads post, I went and watched the Sam Harris vs Ben Afflect video on Youtube. Very interesting indeed. For anyone else who cares to watch it, you can see it here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vln9D81eO60

    Somehow this blog also reminded me of when Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes, and amongst many other fantastic barbs, he skewered pretty much everyone in the room by criticising who they all have worked for. Again, for those interested, see the 6:30 mark in this video where he talks about sweat shops in China:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR6UeVptzRg

    I think it's also worth considering that famous people, much like everyday people, all come from diverse backgrounds, and to suggest that they should not have a voice would be akin to saying that I should not have a voice simply because I'm white, or that the guy down the street shouldn't have a voice because he is asian. Many athletes and famous celebrities do actually have an education, and many actually have views that are worthwhile listening to. Having said that, buyer beware. It's easy for a person with a platform to get behind a microphone and sprout their views. In all cases, everyone one of us should take any celebrity views with a grain of salt. Do your research. Check out the background. Does Pat Cummins talk about climate change because he truly believes it, or does he have some underlying motivation, financial or otherwise, that we don't know about? Is he walking the walk, or just talking the talk?

    Form a personal perspective, I took celebrities off the pedestal long ago. I do still marvel that they can kick a ball further than me, or bowl a cricket ball faster than me, but that is where my fascination ends. Those that reach the peak of the tree are just lucky that they have a specific skill that they can do better than 99.9% of the rest of the population. It doesn't make them any more important, and it's certainly no reason to trust everything they say on any matter they choose.

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