American Sports Figures And How They Exemplify Essays Examples
The Development of the American Life Since 1954
The period from 1954 until the next decade turned out to be the beginning of life changing events in the American way of life. It was an era of turbulent protest that was made prominent by the civil rights movement that aimed to put a halt on racial segregation and inequality in its prominence during that time. However, it was also the time when the American dream proved to be achievable in its definition that there should be improved and better life to each person with equal chances for everyone according to their ability. During that time, prominent sports figures rose to fame exemplifying how they live up to the definition of the American Dream. Their feat in having achieved the American Dream made the public look up to these sports figures with awe and admiration; their way of living, acts and words served to have a significant impact into the psyche of the Americans. Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Michael Jordan are among these American sport figures.
The will of Mohammad Ali to rise against all the odds was exemplified by having won three heavy weight championships on three distinct fights, and was able to preserve that title 19 times against strong opponents. He started out early in boxing having trained at the age of 12 (Lipsyte 25) and would later bag the Light Heavy weight gold medal during the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome. His rise to the top was marked by beating prominent boxers that resulted to being chosen as the best contender against the reigning Heavy Weight Champion Sonny Liston. Despite being young and an underdog, he was able to beat Liston in their fight. Mohammad Ali almost predicted it right when he said he will beat his opponent on the 8th round (Wolfe 117) on February 1965 making him the youngest heavy weight to have snatched the heavy weight title. However, despite his notable success in boxing, he was stripped of the championship title and the athletic commission of the United States did not allow him to take further fights. His refusal to be drafted into the United States military on behalf of his Islamic belief and his opposition to the involvement of the United States in the war in Vietnam was did not only cause him his boxing career, but also of his conviction and sentence to a five year imprisonment.
More than his success in boxing, Mohammad Ali was also noted for his fight against racial segregation and inequality. He was known to talk about his opposition to the white bigotry (Parks 54). His refusal to be inducted in the U.S. army on the ground of his belief and principle conveyed a clear and strong message not only to the African-Americans but to the general American population as well. His opposition to the Vietnam Was awakened in the Americans the needless of them sending their young men into the war. When asked what made him take a revolutionary stand against the war he replied, "What's wrong with me going to war for something I believe?" (Muhammad 32). He stood his ground that there is no god reason to kill or go the war, adding that the people in Vietnam were not his enemies. He had also stood up to his Islamic belief of only joining wars to for the cause of his Islamic belief. Accordingly, to him he mentioned about the goodness of Christianity only if the white man live it, adding that the whites preaches the gospel but do not practice it (playboy 147).
The Robinson family exemplified the resilience of the American people in dealing with a different kind of slavery, though they were lucky to have been lived during the abolishment of slavery (Robinson, 4). Just like Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson's popularity rose during the time of tumultuous era in the United States. But in contrast to the character of the young Ali, Robinson exemplified calm, friendly and peaceful personality endearing him to his team. He was a student in UCLA where became the first student to be recognized as a four-letter athlete of the school. His great talent in baseball broke the colour segregation when the Brooklyn Dodgers had him play first base. His feat had a great impact to racial segregation and contributed to the further awakening of the Civil Rights movement.
One of the major accomplishments of Robinson was the breaking of the baseball colour line. He was fortunate to have Mr. Rickey, an anti-Jim Crow student during that time as their team coach, and one who had expressed hope that “the day will come when they don’t have to be white” (Robinson, 27). It was an unwritten code in baseball before World War II to never allow any African American to play in major league baseball. It was the war that exposed this unwritten code, with the argument that should a man endangered his life fighting for his country then he earned the right to play in the country’s national baseball game. But it was the exemplary talent of Robinson that showed how the disadvantage black has so much talent in them if given the opportunity. He was selected among many athletes, as it is crucial during that time that the man who will break the colored line shall be more than just an athlete. They wanted a ball player who is afraid to fight back (Robinson, 842). The unwanted presence of a Black American in the field called for the necessity that the chosen players is calm in order to prove that his race is worthy of playing in the field. His entry to the baseball leagues was full of difficulties, mainly owing to racial segregation. But there were already too many African American fans of his team, resulting to the quick rose of popularity of the Dodgers throughout the country.
Jackie Robinson retired from playing baseball in 1957 and received the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. He spent most of his time in his business and the development of his career with the thought that doing so is tantamount to helping the progression of the African American in the field of business and industry. Robinson also became active in the political arena, supporting several leaders in their political campaigns.
Michael Jordan exemplified the American way of life in dominating the many parts of the globe, the same way as the American culture and economy has largely influenced the international scene. In addition to that, he is known to enjoy and share his personal successes; a typical way of the Americans in sharing the abundance that they have to other nations. The life of Michael Jordan is not only concentrated on the basketball games, but also in promoting diverse American Businesses around the globe. A basketball player from Chicago, he was the most renowned and respected American to diverse cultures and nations around the world.
Michael Jordan and other business capitalized on his famous personality in promoting different business and products internationally. Nike for instance took advantage on this new form of global capitalism and has enormously succeeded in marketing its products with the ever popular Michael Jordan. It was however viewed as not only promoting sneakers and MJ, but another sort of the spreading out of the American influence to other parts of the world. The popularity of MJ and how he became a success in indorsing American products enlightens the intricacies of contemporary global capitalism. The basketball career of MJ is a phenomenon that embodied the intersection of business, sports, technology and culture. The height of Michael Jordan’s career and the popularity of basketball as a sport made these period the worthy to be called the “American Century” (Lafeber, 23).
His accomplishments speak of the superstar that he is: Rookie of the year; Five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; Six-time NBA finals MVP; Ten-time All-NBA First Team; Nine time NBA all-Defensive First Team; and Defensive Player of the Year; among others. It was however recognized that his influence is more that the championships won; with his unmatchable basketball skills, he was able to become a basketball icon pushing the NBA into the global limelight. Jordan was a likeable man with his great talent and character; he gained tremendous popularity within just the few first seasons.
Michael Jordan, being the superstar athlete that he was, got the attention of many advertisers and he would later indorse as many products. According to a research, MJ was paid an approximate amount of 45 million dollars even after years of not being in the field. He was the epitome of how prominent figures are used by big corporations to promote business, as a result through the promotional power of sport, the influence of U.S. to other countries appears to be fascinating (Lafeber 14). He became involved in many charity works and humanitarian causes such as the UNCF/College Fund the Special Olympics and several other groups that promote the wellbeing of children and their families. His principle is that one needs to continually help even after being successful.
During the period of the Civil Rights Movement, Several Americans rose up to popularity. In the sports arena, personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson and Michael Jordan became prominent breaking the stereotypes that were commonly attached to the African American. These great individuals revealed the desire and hopes of each citizen in the United States of achieving the American Dream. In a way, they have done more than that. They did not only achieve their greatest dreams but they also became instrumental in effecting changes to the society.
"Boxing Field." Esquire. 1996. Retrieved from Carmen.
Greene, Bob, Mohammad Ali was the Most Famous Man in the World. 1983. Retrieved from Carmen.
Lipsyte, Robert. I Don't have to be What you Want me to be. ProQuest. Historical Newspapers. The New York Times (1851-2005). Retrieved from Carmen.
LaFeber, Walter. Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism. 1999. Norton. Print.
Mailer, Norman. Ego. 1971. Retrieved from Carmen.
The Black Scholar Interviews. Muhammad Ali. Black Culture. 1970. Retrieved from Carmen.
Parks, Gordon. The Redemption of the champion. Time INC. 1996. Retrieved from Carmen.
Playboy. Muhammad Ali. Playboy Interview. 1975. Retrieved from Carmen.
Plimpton, George. Miami NoteBook. Harper's Magazine. 1964. Retrieved from Carmen.
Robinson, Jackie. I Never Had Made It. HarperCollins Publishers. 2003. Print
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