As American sports figures sound off on politics, their European counterparts stay silent
Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT) December 12, 2016
London (CNN)The day after Donald Trump won the US election, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy didn't hold back.
"I don't think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic," he told reporters during a shoot around before a game in Phoenix.
"We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking this is where we are as a country."
Van Gundy's outspokenness, echoed by fellow NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, is emblematic of a rise in political activism within American sports unseen since the Vietnam War.
Images of Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem, Carmelo Anthony joining a civil rights march, and LeBron James stumping for Hillary Clinton hardly raise eyebrows anymore.
Curiously, however, their cohorts in Europe have remained largely silent on political issues. This, despite the UK's highly-charged Brexit referendum in June, and a surge in far-right and xenophobic sentiment on the continent.
"They don't get involved in politics," former NBA player John Amaechi says of his fellow British athletes. "They think it's not their job. They think they will be instantly critiqued -- which they will be -- but it's not the job of athletes to avoid critique."
"That is an anti-risk-taking behavior, which is anti-athletics," Amaechi, now an organizational psychologist in London, tells CNN. "I personally think abdicating your public voice is irresponsible."
Amaechi was the first ex-NBA player to speak openly about his homosexuality when he came out in 2007.
'There has to be solidarity'
Although a few retired footballers like David Beckham and Gary Lineker, along with controversial veteran player Joey Barton, opined on the Brexit campaign on social media, it is difficult to find examples of European athletes willing to risk their careers by speaking out against social injustice in the manner of Muhammad Ali, Martina Navratilova, or today's firebrand Kaepernick.
Instead, European activism has historically been rooted in nationalism, notes sports sociologist Joseph Maguire of the UK's Loughborough University, citing examples such as Andy Murray's backing of Scottish independence or the