The First Amendment has impacted sports by giving athletes the right to have personal opinions. However, it has been proven that the First Amendment does not protect athletes from consequences or discrimination because of those opinions. The First Amendment protects you from federal, state, and local government actions, but not private organizations (i.e. sports teams).
Two examples of recent cases involving the First Amendment include:
- Colin Kaepernick and the National Anthem protest
- Michael Sam and his sexual orientation
Colin Kaepernick exercised his First Amendment right by kneeling during the National Anthem. Kaepernick’s goal was to raise awareness and protest the unfair treatment of minorities. Colin has faced severe backlash within the league and ruffled many feathers. He has remained unsigned despite being a second round draft pick and taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Michael Sam has never tried to be a spokesman for gay athletes, but the NFL pushed him into that role. Michael was upfront and honest with his college team, as well as professional scouts. His frankness was met with homophobic comments from NFL athletes and he was dropped from the NFL quicker than he was signed.
Dickey, J. (2017, September 08). There's No Credible Reason Why Colin Kaepernick Isn't on a Week 1 NFL Roster. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/09/08/colin-kaepernick-week-1-nfl-roster-not-signed
Page, J. (2016, August 23). Opinion: Why Michael Sam Is a Footnote in History, Not a Trailblazer. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/opinion-why-michael-sam-footnote-history-not-trailblazer-n634786