Steve Kim: Professional athletes are going to regret volunteering to be 'more than an athlete'

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Last year, many athletes adopted LeBron James' mantra about being “more than an athlete.” For them, playing sports was just a small part of their identity. In essence, they shouldn't be forced, like most of us working stiffs, to have their identities attached to their profession.

No. They weren't just grossly overpaid performers on the playing field. They're activists and community leaders. And that's exactly how the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People treated them on Thursday, when it asked professional athletes to eschew opportunities to work in the state of Texas.

According to ESPN, NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote a two-page letter addressed to the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and WNBA players' associations asking athletes to avoid Texas over the state's recent laws regarding abortions, voting rights, and mask mandates.

“Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus,” the letter states.

So much for just playing ball, making a living, and negotiating happy endings. Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson now has to factor in abortion laws, mask mandates, and voter IDs into his decision-making about where to play next season.

The NAACP website states that the organization's mission is to “ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all citizens.”

Certainly a noble endeavor, but it has to be asked — what sacrifice are Derrick Johnson and the NAACP making in all this? I guess he did take the time to craft the two-page letter. That took some effort.

But this is nothing more than grandstanding and a cheap attempt to stay relevant by an organization whose influence has been fading for years.

It's very easy to request that others reduce their economic opportunities in highly lucrative careers that have relatively short life spans. All of the sacrifice — and almost none of the benefits (if there are any ) — in this instance would be for the players who are learning that being a willing pawn means that others make the moves for you on this chessboard.

Real activism should go farther than hashtagging and sitting out games. Now they are being asked not to play for certain teams in major markets.

Hey, guys, don't you just want to be an athlete and leave the grandstanding to the professional grandstanders?

But, hey, you asked for all this. Next time read past page one of LeBron's book, “Social Justice Warrioring for Dummies.”

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