Athletes Use Their Platforms To Fight For Social Change
Athletes are finding their voice. Pro players are using their platforms to advance fights for social change. As sports are one of the most iconic cultural touchstones, these stars have the power to influence the minds and actions of millions of people by commenting on political, social, and racial issues. These displays of activism happening off the courts are much louder and arguably more impactful than what’s happening on it.
Women are leading the charge.
Like Arlene Guzman, increasingly we are seeing women professional athletes have drawn the spotlight away from the game and spread awareness about worthy causes. The most recent is the issue of mental health.
Mental health is serious
In May 2021, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open to focus on her mental health. Since then, all eyes have been on the tennis superstar as she brings awareness to the topic. It started when the top-ranked player skipped a mandatory press conference. Citing “long bouts of depression” that resulted from the stress of media coverage tactics, she sought to bring attention to practices that she believed to be cruel and outdated. After being fined by organizers and threatened with harsher punishments, she decided on a permanent hiatus. Tournament officials attempted to draw a hard line, but Naomi Osaka pushed back. Her health was more important.
Naomi Osaka’s actions were bold, but it was only just the beginning. Over the next several months, other athletes came to her defense and shared their commitment to mental health. Coco Guaff shared the added pressures that came with being a teenage phenom. Sloane Stephens, who elected to quarantine in preparation for a match instead of attending her grandmother’s funeral, discussed regret over her decision. Support poured in from sports superstars from around the world.
Mental health also played a prominent role on the world’s biggest stage, at the Tokyo Olympics. Simone Biles removed herself from the competition, stating on Instagram that her mind and body were “simply not in sync.” This was a resounding statement from one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. In a sport where conformity and obedience are considered virtuous, she broke free and stood up for herself. It became about what she wanted and not “what the world wants us to do.”
For fans like Arlene Guzman, it’s refreshing to see this growing movement. She is president of AG Communications, a woman-owned communications firm. Located in Los Angeles, her agency partners with nonprofits, startups, and governmental organizations to develop industry-leading marketing campaigns and strategies. Arlene Guzman holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy and incorporates elements of mental health into her business approach and client work.
Outside of the office, she is a recreational athlete who has competed in marathons and triathlons, including an Ironman race. While she is not a professional athlete, she is also committed to self-care and bringing awareness to mental health. Arlene Guzman is part of a generation of women devoting their energy, efforts, and talents to enacting meaningful change.