Lebron James can do a lot more than just "shut up and play." Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
By: Jermaine Every
“Shut up and dribble.” That statement has been a hot topic. So has social commentary in general from athletes. I’m not sure why the public has such an issue with athletes speaking out on the societal issues they feel strongly about.
I’m sure John Carlos and Tommie Smith faced some backlash when they raised their black-gloved fists at the 1968 Olympics. But that was during an era in which blacks were still fighting for civil rights and equality. That fight isn’t over. Neither are other issues at the forefront of our society. The “#MeToo” movement comes to mind. Which is why I can’t understand why we haven’t heard the phrase “shut up and act” or “shut up and sing?”
Actors and other entertainers have always taken a stand against societal issues and provided social commentary via their various forms of art. Whether it’s a commercial, a song, or a gesture or wardrobe statement, they’ve made their feelings known for years. Frequently, top actors and actresses have used award ceremonies to voice their opinions. Singers have made songs about their views and opinions. So why has it become taboo for athletes to do the same?
One of the reasons I feel it’s an issue for athletes is because a lot of them have been blacks and minorities speaking out on this country’s treatment of blacks and other minorities. This started with the Civil Rights Movement. Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, and many others used their star power as pro athletes to further the Movement. Anthem protests were sparked by police brutality and killing of unarmed blacks and minorities. The president has made himself a very polarizing figure with some outlandish actions and statements, most of which have caused a ripple of divisiveness in our country. Some have caused athletes and entertainers to speak out. However, the athletes are the only ones to get flack.
The “#MeToo” movement was started because of sexual assault/harassment allegations against some of the movie/television industries top executives, actors, and actresses. This shined a light on some ugliness that has been going on behind the scenes of our entertainment industry. Recently, there have been some allegations against college basketball programs paying players as a result of an F.B.I. investigation. I know there are different departments that handle different things. But why is it that women feel unheard reporting these allegations to authorities, yet we have task forces dedicated to finding out who’s paying what college basketball player?
I’m not lost on the fact that these two issues are completely different. I’m not trying to downplay either one either. I have a close friend who was the victim of sexual assault. It hurt to find out what happened years later and knowing I wasn’t there for her. I’ve also seen what those illegal payments have done for some of those athletes and their families.
The one thing that has pissed me off more than anything is the way the media, and our society as a whole, has treated athletes who speak out against social injustice, or societal issues they feel strongly about. The “#MeToo” movement was seen as shedding light on the horrific behavior of people in power. But when LeBron James speaks out against societal inequities, which are painfully obvious, he gets vitriol spewed his way? Injustice is injustice no matter how you slice it. Whether it’s sexual assault, police brutality, racism, sexism, or any kind of ugliness that plagues our society, anyone who chooses to speak out against it should be afforded the same opportunity. I don’t give a damn if it’s an older white NBA coach like Gregg Popovich speaking out on social injustice regarding blacks and other minorities, or if it’s the men affected by harassment or assault in the #MeToo movement, everyone is afforded that right under the First Amendment. And yes, you’re also afforded the right to offer rebuttal or critical commentary under the First Amendment as well. However, in the interest of being a decent human being, shut the hell up criticizing people speaking out on the obvious injustices that plague our society.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.