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Professional Athletes and PoliticsShould professional athletes be disciplined for making controversial political statements?

Issue Background

With the advent of the 24/7 newscycle and social media, professional athletes have had an unprecedented ability to broadcast their opinions. This has created occasional controversies due to the highly disciplined environment found on professional sports teams. Most recently, Pittsburgh Steeler Rashad Mendenhall tweeted his reaction to Bin Ladin's killing and America's reaction. His comments included "'It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We've only heard one side ..." among other things. The Steelers immediately distanced themselves from Mendenhall's comments and he may face discipline eventually. LA Laker Kobe Bryant also found himself in trouble this year when he was caught on camera directing a homophobic slur towards an NBA referee.

Key Arguments

» Yes

» No

  • Athletes have personal opinions just like everyone else. They should be allowed to broadcast these thoughts without facing punishment from their teams.
  • Team owners and coaches should only be concerned about athletic performance. Players actions outside of the game should not be disciplined as long as they do not impact their ability to play.


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