LeBron James should not boycott games, but offer solutions

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2016

While I am an advocate for using innovative techniques to bring change, I do not support the cries for LeBron James, the superstar small forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, to sit out of professional basketball games to demand justice for Tamir Rice.

Rice was the 12-year-old who was shot and killed by Cleveland Police in November 2014 while waving a toy gun (the orange tip that signifies a toy weapon had been removed).

An officer fired his weapon within five seconds of arriving on the scene. On Dec. 28, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer.

Email newsletter signup

Subsequently, activists have saturated social media platforms with cries for LeBron to boycott playing games until the officers are held accountable.

This comes on the heels of the University of Missouri’s football team refusing to participate in all athletic activities until the University’s president, Tim Wolfe, resigned.

The football team’s protests followed a number of incidents on campus that students believed that Wolfe and his administration either ignored or handled poorly. After the protest garnered national attention, Wolfe resigned.

Athletes can have a tremendous impact on social justice issues in America.

Imagine if high school players refused to attend colleges and professional athletes refused to sign contracts until they eradicated Stand Your Ground in Florida, abolished the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights in Maryland and eliminated the felony murder rule in California.

Athletes have often been agents of change in America. Athletes, such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Brittney Griner, Brandon Marshall and Chris Kluwe have used their celebrity status to bring awareness to things such as racial injustice, wars, gender bending, mental health and LGBT rights.

LeBron James has often supported causes that are near and dear to his heart.

He and his teammates donned hoodies in a picture to bring awareness to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin when LeBron was a member of the Miami Heat and he wore an “I can’t breathe” T-shirt to bring awareness to the death of Eric Garner.

However, I do not condone LeBron sitting out games for Tamir Rice.

Instead of boycotting games, LeBron can use his influence and celebrity platform to lobby for special prosecutors to investigate all cases involving law enforcement officers in Ohio or sponsor community civics courses to help educate voters on the roles of local government.

Rather than boycotting by not playing basketball, LeBron can use his voice to offer viable solutions to a problem within his community.

Taikein Cooper is a native of Farmville and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in public policy analysis. His email address is taikeincooper@gmail.com.