On Thursday morning, TIME officially released their annual list of the 100 most influential people on the planet for 2017. While doing so, the heralded publication included several athletes and others associated with sports including Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar forward LeBron James and New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady among several others.
“Some years the list has the feel of a loose, lively dinner party, people who mostly don’t know each other but would get along if they did. This year is a bit more complicated,” said TIME’s editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs. “These past 12 months have sharpened our edges as political debates in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East and Asia, turned jagged and primal and seem almost perfectly designed to divide us more deeply.”
However, not quite done there, 2017’s list also includes current free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and international soccer superstar Neymar.
“In divisive times, it’s tempting to nestle in a comfort zone, surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, pray like us, vote like us,” Gibbs added.” Yet many of the men and women on this year’s list are calling us out, using the technologies that connect us to expand how we see the world.”
While sports are often viewed as simple games, athletes and those associated with athletics have become larger than life figures. With the aforementioned list featuring a wide variety of people from around the globe, such sports figures have certainly impacted modern society both within and out of their respective realms.