Some people would argue that politics and sports don’t mix. People like conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, who famously told LeBron James to “shut up and dribble.” But more and more, these outspoken athletes are using their star power to stand up for the causes they believe in.
When Aly Raisman led the women’s gymnastics team to victory at the 2016 Olympic Games, she proved herself a leader. And when she stood up to the USA Gymnastics council for failing to protect their athletes from a predator, she proved herself to be courageous outside the arena. Raisman was one of the most outspoken athletes to accuse former team doctor Larry Nassar of abuse.
Although his career in the NFL was relatively short, Tim Tebow made a big impression. Deeply religious and conservative, Tebow is a philanthropist who won’t rule out running for office. In 2016, he told The New Yorker that he could imagine himself getting into politics: “I want to do whatever I feel can have the greatest impact and touch the most people. If one day that is the political realm, then that’s something I’d consider. I wouldn’t be doing it out of a passion for politics but out of a passion for people.”
He might not be the most familiar name on this list of outspoken athletes, unless you’re a hockey fan. Subban is one of the few black NHL players, currently skating for the Nashville Predators. He started a program called Blueline Buddies, which connects kids with cops, and has pledged $10 million to a children’s hospital in his native Montreal.
The figure skater stole our hearts during the 2016 Olympic Games—not only for his moves on the ice, but for his brave advocacy for LGBT rights. The openly gay athlete hasn’t ruled out making the move to politics. In October of this year, Rippon told the crowd at a Boston political rally that he has “always thought one day I would run for office.”
The star basketball player has not been shy about using his public platform to advocate for change. He has been one of the most outspoken athletes regarding racism and police violence in America. And after he drew criticism for getting political, he co-produced the documentary Shut Up and Dribble to clap back at his critics.
Most recently, James built the “I Promise School” for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Honestly, he has our vote if he ever chooses to run for office!