When asked why he supported conservative and notorious racist Jesse Helms over Democrat Harvey Gantt in the 1996 North Carolina Senatorial race, Michael Jordan replied, “Republicans buy Nikes too.” And thus began the athlete’s 21st century business model: Dominate sport. Get endorsement contract. Obey the law … and stay out of politics.
Tiger Woods and LeBron James have followed this paradigm to perfection in becoming the wealthiest and most recognizable athletes of our generation. They and others like them all have an opportunity to influence the society by breaking down racial and gender barriers and by expressing their political views. Yet, they continually shy away from this responsibility for the sake of their reputation and their bank accounts.