Stick to sports. Shut up and dribble. Just entertain me.
I’ve read all these things in the past few week on social media. There is one question I keep coming back to though: how can any of us ignore what is happening right now in America?
If we are being honest, this has been going on for far longer than three weeks. A lot of people, myself included, just have not listened enough to the pain and suffering from our black peers. We ignored the cries for help from people of color across our country.
So yes, this is a sports blog, but I am the one responsible for writing it and I can’t just stick to sports. To do so would be irresponsible as a white man at this point.
Let me make this very clear. Black Lives Matter. Police brutality needs to end and the best way to do that is rethinking our entire policing system. Our criminal justice system is a mess. Reform simply has not been effective. The system has unequivocally failed everyone, including those that work in it. It has been broken for so long that many of us have just gotten used to it and simply “well, that’s just the way it is.” That’s not right. You should be angry. I truly hope we are beginning to see a point where those days will come to an end. The path is long and hard. I am committed to following it all the way. This cannot end when the media moves on and the protests end.
In the three weeks since George Floyd was murdered, we have seen athletes across sports step up in a variety of ways. Several stars have joined protests. Some of the most notable black players in the NFL challenged commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office to do more. Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers have debated the morality of the NBA returning to action in Orlando. The Phoenix Mercury’s Brianna Turner shared her experiences as the daughter of two black police officers. Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only full-time black driver, encouraged NASCAR to ban the Confederate Flag from its races, which it did. Hundreds of athletes have taken to their social media platforms to spread messages of support and solidarity. Many sports leagues have committed significant money to social justice efforts and are reimagining how they promote and discuss diversity.
The time for athletes to be silent is long gone. Some of the most impactful and notable voices on the subject of race have been athletes. Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Colin Kaepernick, Maya Moore, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Serena Williams, LeBron James and many more have been unafraid to use their platforms to advocate for social change and pushed the boundaries on what was expect of athletes. More are going to join them.
To expect these athletes, who in many cases are people of color, to remain silent about the oppression and inequity that affects so many in their communities is unrealistic. And they shouldn’t be alone. I am encouraged to see many of their white teammates and coaches pledging their support and even taking action. It shouldn’t fall on athletes to drive social change, but they have our attention. They are part of a multi-billion phenomena we call sports. Few things wield that much power in America.
I don’t have quite the same platform or clout, but I can still write.
And I am going to keep writing about athletes who are making a difference in their communities and committed to making a lasting impact. I won’t hide my support for those who plan to kneel during the national anthem.
Racism is wrong. We all seem to agree on that. Now it’s time to do something about that.
Stick to sports? Excuse my language, but fuck that. Expect more to come.