It is an argument as old as sport itself: should professional athletes use their standing in the public eye to further cause that are close to their heart or should sport be kept separate from the political and social fluxes going on in the world?

Many modern day sportsmen and women tend to decide to the latter, keeping their heads beneath the parapet as they go about trying to make the most of a career that could be ended at any moment by injury or controversy.

However, there are those special few who decide that winning is not enough. There are those who realize that what the history books truly remember is not the number of W’s you have beneath your name, but how you went about getting them.

This is an homage to the athletes of both past and present who realized that sport could be a force for good, rather than just a distraction designed to propagate the status quo.

Taking a knee has taken on a whole new meaning.

Colin Kaepernick

Be in no doubt, when the dust settles Colin Kaepernick will be remembered as a hero, one who dared defy those infinitely more powerful than he, at great personal expense and sacrifice, to simply better the lives of strangers.

All he may have done was take a knee, but just like all those who have gone before him, he realised that simply taking a stand could be the foundation around which change can be built.

It remains to be seen just how profound an impact his famous knee protest will have in Washington and further afield, but Kaepernick has shown sportsmen that there’s so much more to life than just lifting trophies and feigning deference to sponsors and flags.

For so many reasons Muhammad Ali’s name will live on forever

Muhammad Ali

Like so many characters in boxing, Muhammad Ali was an enigma, willing to take money on offer from questionable regimes around the world throughout his career, while also standing up for what he truly believed in.

This culminated in him doing a stint in prison, which deprived boxing fans of seeing him float like a butterfly and sting like a bee in his prime. None of that stopped him becoming The Greatest, a title he holds to this day despite other boxers boasting superior records.

For a man renowned for doling out punishment in the ring, he showed that even a boxer could make a huge impact on the world by laying down his arms and surrendering himself to peace.

Billie Jean King

Tennis is one of the foremost hotbeds for feminism in sport, with the likes of the Williams sisters, Martina Navrátilová and even Andy Murray doing great things to ensure that equality between the sexes prevails.

The athlete who really kickstarted the conversation was American Billie Jean King who literally took the fight to misogyny when she clashed with Bobby Riggs in the renowned Battle of the Sexes match. In beating Riggs, King showed men that women were more than capable of being their equal. The drama surrounding the game has since been turned into a Hollywood movie.

Jackie Robinson

If NFL fans are viewed as a tough crowd for a black player to win over, then the MLB crowds in the post war era were a raging fire pit.

Jackie Robinson knew all too well that winning alone would not be enough to win the majority over, but he did a pretty good job of it anyway, winning the World Series once in a Hall of Fame career. He paved the path that all other black baseball athletes tread.