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Can athletes be socially conscious while selling sneakers?

This past Sunday, every NFL player made a statement. Some by kneeling on the field, others by locking arms, and a few by not showing up at all. And they did it not to raise awareness over social injustice. But because the President of the United States told them not to.
He publicly stated that those players were unpatriotic, unappreciative, and disrespectful.
Marketing expert Marc Gordon agrees. But not for the reasons you might think.
“I don’t know of any other organization or industry that would allow their employees to openly protest social causes while on the job,” says Marc.
But this isn’t like any other job. Today’s professional athletes are inspirational marketing machines with products to endorse and jerseys to sell. And the teams they play for are their own micro industries.
“Professional sports is unlike any other industry in the world,” says Marc. “On one side you have teams, television networks, and advertisers that are focused on the bottom line. Then on the other you have players that see themselves as heroes and influencers, able to sway opinions while still selling sneakers and jerseys. And where they meet can change with the gate receipts.”
As for Trump?
“This is a classic situation of a relatively minor occurrence becoming a major movement from the direct result of someone complaining about it. Had Trump kept his mouth shut, I doubt this would have become what it is. So in that respect, maybe we owe Trump a thanks for raising awareness of social injustice.”
Some points to ask Marc:
Will these types of on-field protests help or hurt teams and their players?
What should Trump do in response to growing player protests?
With viewership down, is this a winning cause for the NFL?
Is professional sports losing it’s innocence of being impartial?
Should athletes stick to just playing the game?
Marc Gordon