76ers' Matisse Thybulle is Motivated to Encourage NBA Fans to Vote
When Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle takes the floor on Saturday for the NBA's restart, he will wear a statement on his jersey. Vote. That's the message that the 23-year-old rookie wants to spread as many young adults' eyes will be glued to their televisions tuned in for the restart of the season.
The NBA's decision to allow players to wear a message on their uniforms has been met with criticism. Not because of the idea itself, but because of the pre-approved messages that have been made available by the league with little input from the players. Although a select few Sixers criticized the NBA's idea -- Thybulle wasn't going to let the opportunity to encourage fans to vote slip away.
"It's something I'm passionate about," Thybulle explained before practice on Thursday. "My family is passionate about it, and I think a lot of other players are as well. I think back to being a kid, the only education I had on voting is Schoolhouse rock. It's not something that is spoken about enough."
Matisse Thybulle has two different perspectives on life. Personally, he's grown up in the United States of America -- but his immigrant father raised him. Hearing about what life is like outside of the U.S., Thybulle understands just how important it is for Americans -- especially the younger generation -- to get out and vote. So with his platform, Thybulle wants to make sure he does all he can to encourage those watching to utilize their vote when election time comes around.
"The NBA is a massive platform," the rookie stated. "Kids look up to us; people listen to us -- so to take this opportunity, the platform we have, to spread a message we think is worth sharing and fighting for is really important. My dad was born and raised in Haiti, and he grew up out there where they had a dictator. That's something not a lot of people in the U.S. are very aware of or understand the reality of. To be raised with that perspective and understand and appreciate what it means to have a vote and be a part of a democracy where your opinion matters is taken for granted a lot."
Beginning on August 1, Thybulle is hopeful his slight wardrobe change on the court helps spread the message about the importance of voting in America. "It's been a growing initiative by our generation to educate ourselves but also educate each other," Thybulle explained. "I think the more we look to uplift those around us, and bring them on board to a cause that's obviously really important, we'll be able to make some real change."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_