Inspirational Athletes Protest Gun Violence

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Inspirational Athletes Protest Gun Violence

Miami Heat guard, Dwyane Wade, visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Miami Heat guard, Dwyane Wade, visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Heat Zone

Miami Heat guard, Dwyane Wade, visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Heat Zone

Heat Zone

Miami Heat guard, Dwyane Wade, visits Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Chase Bagnall-Koger, Staff Writer

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The movement promoting national gun control laws is one that has been gaining a lot of momentum in America lately. Horrific mass shootings have prompted reactions from all types of people and have induced walkouts and protests in high schools across the country. Though it is natural to expect political commentary from those who have built their careers on politics, atrocities such as those that occurred in Orlando or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have inspired people from a variety of industries to speak out. Professional athletes are constantly in the public eye; they are scrutinized on and off the field, as well as adored by their fans. This gives them a large platform to make their sentiments on major issues, such as gun violence, heard.

“I think it’s really special how so many athletes have taken part in the healing and coping of this local tragedy that has become a nationally expansive one,” sophomore Eduardo Caldera said.

Several well-known players from different sports have recently raised their voices to criticize what they feel are irresponsible gun-related policies and have demanded change for the benefit of the nation.

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Dwyane Wade – NBA star Dwyane Wade, originally from Chicago, has been playing with the Miami Heat for most of his professional career, meaning that the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was close to home for him. One of the victims of this shooting, Joaquin Oliver, was a huge fan of Wade’s and was even buried in Dwyane Wade’s #3 jersey.  This inspired Wade to donate $200,000 to the victims as well as sponsoring an art museum in their honor. “It’s way bigger than basketball,” Wade tweeted following his donation. “We are the voices for the people who don’t get to be heard.” The NBA player also donated $200,000 to send Chicago high school students to The March for Our Lives, a gun control rally in Washington D.C.

Florida Panthers – Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo revealed in a recent interview with ESPN how frustrated he is with incidents of gun violence quickly fading from mainstream news. “We need to keep talking about this,” Luongo told the network. “People in the media have moved on to other stuff, but it’s important to keep it in the forefront.” Luongo also addressed the crowd at the Panthers’ first home game after the shooting, calling on the community to take action and praising students at Stoneman Douglas for their bravery. He plans to stay involved with gun violence issues in the future, especially after the hockey season and his busy schedule clears up.

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team – After the shooting at Parkland, the life of avid soccer player Alyssa Alhadeff was claimed, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas soccer captain Jamie Morris tweeted a request for the U.S. Women’s team to honor her teammate. The team responded shortly via Twitter, saying that they contacted Alyssa’s family and organized for both Alyssa’s family and club team to attend the U.S. vs England women’s soccer match in Orlando on Mar. 3. There, the team held a moment of silence to honor Alyssa’s life.

Chipper Jones – Chipper Jones is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) player who ended his career with 468 home runs, 2 MVP awards and the honor of being and 8-time American League All-Star player. Instead of idly celebrating his retirement and recent induction into the MLB Hall-Of-Fame, the Florida native has spoken out against gun violence in reaction to recent events. “I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t,” Chipper said. He has shown public support for several gun control reforms, such as raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. “Some people will scoff at that, but that’s a big difference,” he said. “Kids grow up a lot in those three years.”

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Sports are loved all over the globe because they are a universal way for people to detach themselves from reality and focus on something fun and exciting. After national tragedies, the country tends to turn to sports to comfort them and remind them of better times to come. In the weeks following the events of 9/11, for example, sports viewership went up significantly as people tried to return to their daily lives and remember what it was like before these attacks occurred. Sports have always had a special place in the hearts of Americans, which is part of the reason why the opinions of athletes are so influential.

“We should encourage them [athletes] to use their voices to talk about important issues since they have such a big platform,” freshman Isabella Rodriguez said.

The trend of individuals and teams of professional athletes speaking out on political topics is one which has existed for several years and continues today. Due to the large amount of public attention these athletes receive, athletes speaking up on gun control and honoring victims of gun violence may help bring change to our nation.

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