Shut up clown: How athlete backlash personifies the echo chamber

Stick. To. Sports.

Three little words that have attained cruel power in the year of our Lord 2017. Words akin to saying, “Shut up and entertain me, clown” But what does the phrase actually mean?

When you tell someone to stick to sports, what are you actually trying to accomplish? Silence a voice who dared to enter a non-athletic arena with opinion in tow? Shield yourself from the rigors and challenges of every day life? All the above?

In reality, it’s the sports version of something the political realm knows all to well — the echo chamber. The echo chamber is the idea of surrounding yourself with like opinions to both confirm your own bias but also stomp out dissent.

Having our beliefs challenged is a hard enough pill to swallow by Larry or that coworker who awkwardly added on Facebook after one coffee break conversation but now you have to hear it from the very beings sent to entertain you.

The one blessed with physical abilities over you. How sway? Why? Surely, she/he can’t be so well-rounded as to understand the intricacies of a football scheme and the political/social arena.

You know in the same way you understand the intricacies of insurance adjusting and the political/social arena or how your neighbor understands the intricacies of the tax code and the political/social arena?

Ironically, sports figures probably have more time to research the pressing issues of our day. After all, they get an offseason. We get a two week vacation to Portland or Orlando. But when you tell an athlete to stick to sports, you were never doing it on the grounds of any meaningful basis.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin heard it, when he stood up against police brutality. His dad just happens to work in law enforcement. He knows a thing or two.

NFL legends Ray Lewis and Jim Brown caught grief for meeting with President Donald Trump on pressing issues within the inner city. Brown is noted for his work in stopping gang violence. Lewis has started initiatives in multiple inner cities to create jobs.

Still, they were lambasted as puppets of Pres. Trump to pander to the Black community. They were likened to Kanye West. I repeat Jim Brown and Ray Lewis were likened to Kanye West.

Brown and Lewis did let Pres. Trump traffic on their public image. It was Lewis not the president who revealed the substance of the meeting. Pres Trump was content to just let the media circus feed on the thought of famous Black people in town. Of course, Brown and Lewis should be leery of letting that happen. Of course, they are probably more concerned with saving lives and creating job in troubled areas. To that end, they may have swallowed some pride.

None of these men are above reproach. We’re allowed to criticize how they navigate these issues.
But, athletes are not robot clowns, meant to be silenced once the lights shut off.

And as you asked of them for years, they’ve decided to be the role models for your children. Much like your spouse, you may not always agree with their chosen method to bring forth education to the youth. Unlike with Betsy Devos, they may actual be qualified to educate, despite your disagreements.

Because the electrician has no more right to voice an opinion than Colin Kaepernick, as long as the opinion comes with a set of facts.

But, you have to actually listen to them to figure that out. And one can’t listen if they’re too busy yelling at them to shut up. The echoes are just too loud.

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