Teams Taking A Stance
By, Caroline Destefano
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Looking at recent news, there is so much to understand, learn, and digest. After witnessing the shooting of Jacob Blake, it is clear that we desperately need change, and we still have a long way to go. This incident is just one example of the many ways racism continues to perpetuate space in our society and systems of power. It is an issue that is complex, deeply rooted, and ever-evolving. There have been decades of effort calling for change, including sit-ins, the March on Washington, and Supreme Court Cases calling for the desegregation of schools. In the past year, we have seen an increase in people taking a stand against racism.
If you continued to follow the news, you saw athletes and teams utilize their platform. On Wednesday, August 26, the Milwaukee Bucks opted to sacrifice a playoff game minutes before the game began. Other teams across the league and the nation, including the WNBA, MLS, NHL, and MLB, followed suit with Osaka’s most recent incident walking out of the US Open.
Seattle teams were quick to stand in solidarity. On August 26th, the Mariners protested, their game against the San Diego Padres. With the upcoming football season approaching, Pete Carroll acknowledged that, “we’re gonna do our part and continue to work to stay actively involved, and continue to stay actively involved, and continue to stay in touch with the situations that are going on, by staying on the topics and with it just in hopes that we can be there to help and support where we can and have influence where we can” (Fieldgulls).
As teams refused to play, they have encouraged others to do the same. Professional sports are an integral part of communities and culture, and thus, hold immense power and influence. Because of their visibility, they have the ability to reach all kinds of people, from fans to leaders at local and federal levels. Through this motion, teams across the country urged people to stop and talk about the issues pressing our communities and challenged leaders to make a change. As Doc Rivers, the coach of the LA Clippers, told his team, “Your talent is your power.”
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In addition to sports, the recent passing of Chadwick Boseman reminds us of the role actors have in both inspiring young leaders and advocating for social justice. As Boseman, who starred as Jackie Robinson in “42”, said: “I am proud to play Jackie Robinson…And I feel like those [racial] barriers will eventually come down. They will come down. And I’m glad that I’m continuing that tradition of expanding people’s barriers. I think that’s why you do the movie. You have to show the sickness or expose the sickness in order to get rid of it.”
While these platforms are influential because they have a high profile, it is also important to acknowledge how individuals can positively make a change. It could be as simple as picking up a new book, correcting a family member’s commentary, fact-checking resources, watching an educational documentary, or reflecting on unconscious biases. These things may seem small compared to the national coverage of celebrities and athletes, but they are no less important and powerful in creating a movement.