Pro Athletes Found Their Voice in 2017

The "stick to sports" mantra was replaced with "speak up."

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Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel in protest on the sideline. (Michael Zagaris/49ers/Getty)

There was an explosion in athlete activism this year, and athletes consistently made national headlines for speaking out about political topics, ranging from police brutality to the president of the United States. Take Lindsey Vonn, a veteran Olympian, who told CNN she would be representing the U.S. at the Pyeongchang Olympics, but not the president. She also said she would decline any potential White House invitation. This echoes other athletes, such as Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry, who also said they would not visit the White House if invited. The Take A Knee movement permeated every NFL team after President Trump called attention to it and even crossed sporting lines. One WNBA team — though many WNBA players and teams have been protesting multiple issues long before protests gained national attention —  stayed in the locker room before a finals game. One of the most respected head coaches in the NBA spoke for over 20 minutes about the intersection of sports and politics. Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling during the national anthem last year to protest police brutality and other injustices faced by African-Americans, received Sport Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali award. Athletes having opinions and voices isn’t new, just look at Muhammed Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Billie Jean King, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Curt Flood. But this year, athlete voices were amplified by social media and sheer accumulation, writes Esquire. Women’s soccer and hockey took stands on equal pay and working conditions, and over a dozen athletes and coaches from Spain’s Catalonia region weighed in on the push for independence, even as the Spanish government deemed the move unconstitutional.

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