The sports world isn't sticking to sports. More than any time in recent memory, athletes are speaking out about the political and social issues of our time.


We often view sports as an escape. But President Trump's first few weeks in office have underscored that sports isn't insulated from reality. This is a unique moment in American history, and so far the sports world isn't keeping quiet. When Trump signed an executive order restricting travel and banning immigration from seven Muslim–majority countries, athletes and coaches made their voices heard—some in support of Trump's ban, but mostly in opposition. One thing is clear: For these men and women, silence isn't an option.


Here's a sampling of how sports figures have responded since the immigration order came down last month.

  • “I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people. I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”

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  • Ibtihaj Muhammad
    Olympian

    “Well, I personally was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago. I don't know why. I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you...”

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  • Michael Bradley
    USMNT/Toronto FC

    “I gave an answer where I tried to make it clear that while I understand the need for safety, the values and ideals of our country should never be sacrificed. I believe what I said, but it was too soft...”

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  • Luol Deng
    Luol Deng
    Los Angeles Lakers | NBA

    “A lot of refugees can’t speak or can never be heard. I wanted to put it out there how proud I am to be a refugee...”

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  • Cris Cyborg
    MMA

    “America is an amazing place with lots of opportunity. It became the greatest Nation in the world by accepting the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free...”

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  • Hakeem Olajuwon
    Former NBA player

    “It’s not a burden. It’s just a responsibility. I’m a public figure. I’m a Muslim. We don’t have too many public figures that can really speak up. If I don’t, then I’m not taking my responsibility...”

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  • Mohamed Sanu
    Mohamed Sanu
    Atlanta Falcons | NFL

    “It’s a very tough situation. I just pray that us as a country and a world can be united. It’s really hard for me to talk about this right now. It would take a lot of time. I would really like to just focus on the game and just talk about football.”

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  • Geoff Cameron
    USMNT/Stoke City

    “I believe it’s important to support our President whether he was your candidate or not. I am pleased he is making security of all Americans one of his top priorities. Our enemies have stated—and in Europe they have proven—they will take advantage of lax immigration procedures for the purposes of staging attacks...”

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  • Husain Abdullah
    Former NFL player

    “In the event I was given the opportunity to speak freely to an attentive Donald Trump without interruption I'd like to say: ‘You should stop the unconstitutional ban and rethink your strategies on keeping America safe. Ostracism leads to animosity and that animosity will produce hate. That hate will emanate both domestically and internationally which would give the adverse effect of what you intend to do, keep America safe...”

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  • Breanna Stewart
    Seattle Storm | WNBA

    “I play for Team USA. My dad wears an American flag tank top. I feel deeply patriotic, but I also recognize how privileged I have been, and this ban just goes against everything that makes me proud to be an American...”

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  • Gregg Popovich
    San Antonio Spurs | NBA

    “I have lots of thoughts about what we’ve done to ourselves as a country and what we’ve allowed to happen.”

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  • Lopez Lomong
    Lopez Lomong
    Olympian

    “When I saw the news, I cried. I was very emotional about it. What if that document had been signed in 2001? Where would I be? I would have no career. I would have no degree. I would probably be dead.”

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  • Becky Sauerbrunn
    USWNT/FC Kansas City

    “Soccer, more often than not, helps to unite the world. What this Muslim ban is doing is dividing it. Separating “Us” and “Them” to another degree, adding more division to a country that already struggles with race, religion, sexual orientation and gender...”

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  • Steve Nash
    Former NBA player

    “Thoughts are with all those affected directly by the Muslim ban. Proud of those speaking up, looking out for the innocent people affected.”

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  • Etan Thomas
    Former NBA player

    “People are using their voices. You are seeing an outpouring of everyone realizing the situation we are in with Trump, and it affects everyone—all races, colors, nationalities, religions, economic backgrounds, etc. ...”

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  • Steve Kerr
    Golden State Warriors | NBA

    “I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it’s the wrong way of going about it...”

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  • Hassan Mead
    Olympian

    “The people will fight it. People from many different backgrounds and beliefs will now come together and stand up for what’s right and let the American spirit stand up.”

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  • Aubrey Huff
    San Francisco Giant | MLB

    “So refreshing 2 see a president follow through with his campaign promises. God bless the future of this great country and keep it safe!”

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  • Will Barton
    Denver Nuggets | NBA

    “It’s hard not to keep up with it. I try not to get political, but s---, it’s happening right in front of our face. I have my personal opinion about things. Lot of things going on in the country I don’t agree with...”

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  • Rachel Joyce
    Triathlete

    “I’m a UK national, I was born in Mexico. What happens if Mexico becomes one of the countries on the list? Does that mean I’m not going to be allowed back in? ...”

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  • Dean Karnazes
    Ultramarathoner

    “The mood right now is very unsettled, and there’s been a lot of overreaction on both sides, and I think it’s important to separate fact from fiction...”

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  • Megan Rapinoe
    USWNT/Seattle Reign FC

    “Travel day tomorrow trying to do my part. To stay silent is to stand with the oppressor. #nomuslimban That isn't my America. ✊”

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  • Kelly Crowley
    Paralympic swimmer

    “The immigration ban, the threat to withdraw from the UN, and the hate speech - it all goes against everything the Olympic & Paralympic movement stands for: peace, respectful competition, international friendship...”

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  • Bradley Snyder
    Paralympic swimmer

    “As a veteran of the US Navy, having deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, it disappoints me that we are now taking such a stiff stance against immigrants and refugees from countries that are experiencing significant conflict and turmoil...”

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  • Mark Cuban
    Dallas Mavericks team owner

    “He has no situational awareness. it seems like if you spot him a and b, he wouldnt be able to find C.”

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  • Shaka Smart
    Texas basketball coach

    “International basketball players are a huge part of college basketball, NBA basketball, even high school and grassroots basketball. Hopefully those guys will continue to have opportunities to come here and explore their dreams and come to places like Texas and be successful on the court and off.”

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  • Darlington Nagbe
    USMNT/Portland Timbers

    “At one point, I was a refugee, and my mother was a refugee,” he said. “So I can only imagine. I mean, I know the pain that [refugees are] feeling this moment...”

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  • Lea Davidson
    Cross country mountain biker

    “Everything’s at stake really. The constitution, everything that the U.S. was founded on. So I think now is the time to speak up, especially if you have a platform, if you have a following.”

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  • Kyle Lowry
    Toronto Raptors | NBA

    “It's bulls---.”

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  • Sunil Gulati
    President of the U.S. Soccer Federation

    “I don’t think the executive order that has been issued is consistent with a lot of American values.”

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  • Jason Collins
    Former NBA player

    “It’s very difficult to have a conversation with someone who disputes facts or someone who is unable to take in a different viewpoint. It goes back to empathy, understanding, the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and have empathy for them. Because the biggest problem is not being able to find that common ground with someone who comes from a different background than you.”

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  • Jesse Thomas
    Triathlete

    “I'm deeply concerned and honestly embarrassed by ban. It's clearly inhumane to the countries directly impacted, and it sends the wrong message about America to the world in general.”

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  • Sacha Kljestan
    USMNT/New York Red Bulls

    “Even today, I play against Serbia, the country of my father, who came to the U.S. illegally himself and built himself a life here. America is the land of opportunity...”

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  • Alejandro Bedoya
    USMNT/Philadelphia Union

    “I have a teammate here, Darlington Nagbe, whose parents had to flee Liberia because of civil war. My first year in Sweden, I lived with a Somalian refugee. To hear the stories that they told!...”

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  • Rondae Hollis Jefferson
    Brooklyn Nets | NBA

    “People can say what they want, but being denied ACCESS to see your grandchild graduate or to go back to your country is inhumane. #MuslimBan”

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