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August 11, 2008

They’re Not Just Athletes…

Derek Shackelford

Last Friday the 2008 Summer Olympics games opened in Beijing, China, where the government has come under scrutiny because of proclaimed human rights violations. The air quality – to some degree – has been deemed unhealthy. The government has been criticized for neglect of some of its citizens and the economic disparity is widely known. And its capital punishment policy has been questioned.


To some degree these are some of the issues that many nations are experiencing, including the political debate in the United States. No country is perfect and every nation has it share of problems. But the spotlight is currently on China.


The Summer Olympic Games garners world attention when the best athletes converge to display their physical gifts. Television and newspapers have paid a handsome sum to cover them and the financial windfall from tourism will be an instant boom to China.


Recently, questions regarding the human rights issues were proposed to the men's basketball team. Such queries are fair game for any athlete, and our players’ responses were one of shock and chagrin.


The team members who were interviewed declared that "they are just basketball players and do not get involve in these types of issues.” They are left to the politicians and we are just basketball players."


Well, I must say that you are more than just basketball players. Someone has told you wrong to make you believe that all you can do is run, jump and shoot. Thinking well should not be out of the question. Basketball players are fathers, brothers, friends...etc.


The 2008 Olympic Men's Basketball Team is more than just men who share their athletic talent. They also have brilliant minds and to focus on your athletic prowess without speaking your mind about injustices does a disservice to the people you seek to entertain.


Ultimately is not what you do that makes you who you are; but it is who you are that gives credibility and dignity to what you do.


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