Since the time athletes became influencers outside of their specific sports realm, there’s been the ongoing disagreement on how athletes should handle politics. The latest rendition of this has come from soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic and basketball player LeBron James.
LeBron James has had a major influence on pop culture since he showed up on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “The Chosen One” as a 17 year old. While recognizing the platform he has, he has always been vocal about any issues where he believes his voice must be heard.
Many people have swung punches at LeBron for using his platform for political sway, yet James has always responded by saying things such as, “I would never shut up about things that are wrong. I preach about my people, and I preach about equality. Social justice. Racism. Systematic voter oppression. Things that go on in our community.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is currently a forward for the AC Milan soccer club and is considered one of the greatest goal scorers of his generation. When asked about athletes and politics, he disagreed with the idea and used LeBron as an example. He said, “(LeBron) is phenomenal at what he’s doing, but I don’t like when people have some kind of status, they go and do politics at the same time. I don’t do politics…that is the first mistake people do when they become famous and they become in a certain status. Stay out of it…”
LeBron has been more outspoken than ever since the Black Lives Matters movement started to form, and when the 2020 presidential elections came around. In response to Zlatan’s comments, LeBron said, “Because I was a part of my community at one point and saw the things going on…they need a voice. And I’m their voice. I’m their voice, and I use my platform to continue to shed light on everything that may be going on, not only in my community, but around this country and around the world.”
Zlatan defended his comments by simply saying, “Athletes unite the world. Politics divide it.”