When Wizards star Bradley Beal talks about voting, he does so with both optimism and a sense of regret. The optimism comes from a motivation to make change and the realization that voting can help. He described the power of voting on Thursday at a press conference officially announcing Capital One Arena as a polling place for this November's election.
"What ways can you impact change besides voting? It's a stepping stone and, yes, it doesn't solve every problem in the world," he said on a Facebook Live.
"We just have to be better in a lot of ways, more than one. So, why not start with a vote?"
Beal, in fact, plans to train to be a polling assistant and wants to work at Capital One Arena on Nov. 3.
"Hopefully, if the mayor allows it, here," Beal said.
But Beal also feels some remorse for how he has treated his vote in the past. Beal will admit he has never voted before despite being eligible to since 2011. That means he sat out two presidential elections.
When asked by a reporter whether this November will be the first time he's voted, he wasn't proud to admit he hasn't.
"Selfishly, yes, it will be. It will be the first time I've ever voted," he said. I was kind of ignorant to it. Just kind of being naive to like 'how many people are there in the world? Okay, my vote won't count.' That's kind of ignorant thinking."
Part of what has changed Beal's thinking on the matter, beyond his concern for social justice matters, is a newfound appreciation for the right to vote. He said he has had conversations recently with his parents and grandparents about their generations and now has a deeper appreciation for his ability to cast a ballot.
"I am kind of understanding what they had to go through to have that right to vote and to have that privilege for their voice to be heard. For me, I clearly took that for granted for eight to 10 years," he said.
"I definitely want to nip that in the bud and make my vote count this year. Especially, after seeing how we are as a world in the last four years, it's been horrible."