1Sports and RhetoricAlthough some may argue otherwise, sport is, indeed, rhetorical. A working definition of rhetoricis, “the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people” (Merriam-Webster, 2014). In this case, one can apply this definition to ask the question, “What are the rhetorical dimensions of sport?” The answer could range from the fact that sports have to do with power, performance, and politics, all of which are rhetorical—thus, sport, in turn, is rhetorical. Or, the answer could be that sport elicits a response, therefore it is rhetorical. When it comes to sport, someone, somewhere, is being persuaded/influenced to think/believe something. People and society love the American sport culture: going out togames, having viewing parties at home, tailgating, cheering their team on, supporting their favorite players, or trash talking opponents. That in itself is rhetorical, thus it is relevant to talk about the everyday social justice issues that occur in professional athleticsbecause they pertain to something that is such a large part of American society. Another reason social justice issues in sports are important and relevant is because some of them happen to be legal matters. An athlete is a regular citizen, so when he or she breaks the law, proper punishment is necessary. All of these factors support the argument that sport is rhetorical. If sport were notrhetorical, would anyone care about professional athletics the way that society does currently? If that was the case, it could be argued that nothing about what players said or did, other than playing their game, would matter. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that is not how things are. Whether someone takes a stand
2on an important issue of social justice or not, he or she is idolized because of sports’ intense presence in society. The professional athlete is put on a pedestal, so the athlete is always being watched, admired, put down, etc. in our “24/7” society, as Dr. Kurtz puts it.
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Ray Rice, National Football League Players Association