When sportsmen are at the top of their careers, they are known to have much influence on the people of their generations. They act like role models who are to be emulated by all; their colleagues, adolescents, and other members of the society. It is no wonder that many sportsmen take this opportunity as a platform to make their opinions on some matters well understood. Activism from the sports platform is quite a common occurrence. However, Agyemang (nd) argues that currently, there is lack of black male athlete activism. Agyemang (nd) further goes on to argue that this lack of activism can be linked to Michael Jordan who, despite his hero status in the NBA series of the 90s, failed to raise a voice on the social issues relating to the Blacks. He failed to follow the example set by his predecessors such as Mohamed Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos who all used their platforms to raise their voices against racism. However, Michael Jordan did not follow this trend. His silence on the matter is linked to the subsequent silence of black male athletes on the social issues. Agyemang (nd) goes ahead to explain this link. This is as discussed below.
There are various incidences in which Jordan could have boldly come out in activism but he failed to. Agyemang (nd) indicates that in 1990, Jordan failed to endorse Harvey Gantt, a black democrat who was running against a racist republican, arguing that republicans also buy his products. He also claimed ignorance on the racial tension and violence that had hit Los Angeles during the 1992 NBA Finals. Furthermore, he was criticized for his continued partnership with Nike despite the knowledge that the company used to oppress its Asian workers. From these perspectives, Jordan failed to follow the example of his predecessors who were actively involved in social activism.
Jordan’s mode of silence is evident in the current black male athletes. A case in point involves two successful basketball players; Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. During the 2008 summer Olympics, the two were asked to comment about the happenings in Darfur. Unfortunately, they distanced themselves from the matter, arguing that it was a political issue and political issues should not be linked to sports issue. They remain adamantly ignorant on the matter.
The link between Jordan and lack of activism in current black male athletes can also be seen using the Social Cognitive Theory. Agyemang (nd) indicates that people learn by observing. They observe certain behaviors, learn them, retain them, and then reproduce them. In this case, the black male athletes grew up admiring Jordan. They al wanted to ‘be like Mike.’ As such, they followed on all his examples, including the one on silence on social issues. After all, Jordan was a leader in his field. He had the charisma, credibility, and cognition. However, he did not use them to assert his opinion on the social issues. Being a transformative leader, he has been instrumental in raising a breed of black male athletes who prefer to remain silent on the social issues. Through this discussion, Agyemang (nd) asserts that Michael Jordan is to blame for the current silence of black male athletes on social issues.
Agyemang, K.J.A. (nd). Black Male Athlete Activism and the Link to Michael Jordan: A Transformational Leadership and Social Cognitive Theory Analysis. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 47(4), pp. 434-444.