- Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation For Cancer Research
- NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed for Cosmopolitan in which he detailed his feelings on stereotypes that are placed upon professional athletes.
- His column comes after Tristan Thompson’s alleged infidelity, which Abdul-Jabbar argues was unfairly framed around the fact that Thompson plays basketball for a living.
- Abdul-Jabbar said he wasn’t arguing that the stereotypes against athletes are on par with those against other groups, but that the stereotypes still had an adverse effect.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed for Cosmopolitan, speaking out against stereotypes applied to professional athletes.
His column comes in the wake of Tristan Thompson’s alleged unfaithfulness to Khloé Kardashian. Abdul-Jabbar argues in the piece that too many have dismissed Thompson’s actions or claimed that Kardashian should have been aware just because “He’s an athlete.”
The implication is that such sleazy behavior should be expected because, after all, he plays professional sports for a living. Grown men playing boys’ games can’t be trusted to act like responsible adults. Especially when they’re celebrities because of it.
This is a pervasive opinion people have of pro athletes-and not even the worst one. But that doesn’t make it true or acceptable. Imagine how different the response would be if the comment were, “He’s black.” But athletes are expected to accept the insulting stereotypes, shut up, and dribble.
While Abdul-Jabbar goes on to clarify that he’s not equating the stereotyping of athletes with the stereotyping of other marginalized groups, whether based on race, religion, gender, or other factors, he does argue that “when we allow any prejudice to pass unchallenged, we endorse all prejudice.” And the pervasiveness of stereotypes against athletes makes it easier for people to dismiss the ideas of athletes who are fighting for change.
The problem is that every time we see articulate, courageous, and committed athletes-like LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, Etan Thomas, Michael Bennett, Steph Curry, and others-a juicy bit of salacious gossip drowns out these important voices and we all tumble back to square one.
Abdul-Jabbar is no stranger to activism and has taken up cultural criticism since retiring from the NBA, speaking out on many topics. He is also slated to be a contestant on the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars” alongside other athletes including Tonya Harding, Adam Rippon, and Josh Norman.
You can read his piece in its entirety here.