Around 3:30 p.m. today, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the NBA’s LeBron James sent out these two tweets:
This is really messing with my mind. Kids is everything to me! And of course i have 2 of my own in elementary school as well. I can’t….— LeBron James
imagine it happening to my kids school. I and the rest of the families would be devastated! Something has to be done. Land of the free, BS!— LeBron James
James is arguably the most famous athlete in the world; he’s certainly the most famous athlete in the United States, with over 6.5 million Twitter followers and 13 million followers on Facebook, where the tweets were also posted. He’s voiced his support for President Obama, but otherwise stayed silent on political issues. Whether his statement — “something has to be done” — will be followed up by more specific advocacy of gun control, it’s still remarkable to hear an athletic superstar use the kind of potentially inflammatory language (“Land of the free, BS!”) that James does in this case. Corporate endorsements and political radicalism (on either side of the partisan divide) don’t mix, and the athletes that are outspoken tend to be role players. The gravity of the events in Sandy Hook look to have pushed James over a line that modern all-things-to-all-people sports celebrities rarely cross.