America’s Greatest Athletes Stand Up, Calling on this Country to Change
America’s greatest athletes are fighting for justice at a critical time.
Despite unprecedented multiracial protests across the country protesting police violence against African Americans, the horrors continue to unfold.
Last week, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As anger grew, some protests were marred by vandalism and looting. Today, right-wing armed militias are exacerbating tensions. In Kenosha, two protesters were murdered and another injured by a 17-year-old Trump supporter illegally wielding an assault weapon.
It is in this cauldron that the professional basketball players of the NBA rose, forcing a suspension of the playoffs, to support the call for justice. Their example has been echoed by others – the WNBA, baseball players, tennis champions like Naomi Osaka and more.
It takes courage. Great athletes learn to focus on their sport and ignore their power in culture. Owners, agents, managers and fans see them as entertainment, not citizens or rulers.
Yet the gifts, discipline, and skills that God has given to a great athlete contribute to their leadership capacity. In the Old Testament, little David perfected his skill with a slingshot. When an oppressive horde led by a giant named Goliath threatened the Hebrew people, David stood up, throwing the stone that killed the giant and saved his people.
Now America’s greatest athletes are standing up, calling on this country to change. They know they will face criticism and abuse. They know they could risk their careers and their livelihoods.
When LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat players stood up in response to Trayvon Martin’s death, Americans across the country took notice. The same is true now, as current athletes focus on Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake and the others they name.
They know the risks, but they also know that when they leave the court or the playground and return to their families, they are just another black person to the police, and must ask themselves how to protect their sons and daughters. , sisters and brothers, or even themselves. Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks and Thabo Sefolosha of the Houston Rockets were both victims of law enforcement anarchy.
Here, LeBron James’ example and leadership was instrumental. Athletes around the world admire him. When LeBron uses his platform to speak out – even in the face of insults from the President and others – he sets the tone and an example for others. In my opinion, he uses his gifts and platform so responsibly because it is his way of thanking God by serving others.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has used his gifts and platform to change the culture. Today, athletes use their commitment to remind this country to reason.
Great athletes have often been leaders. When heavyweight champion Jack Johnson resisted arbitrary and racial social mores, he made an impact on culture. When Joe Lewis defeated Max Schmeling, he bludgeoned all Nazi theory and racist ideology. When Jesse Owens became the fastest man in the world at the Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler didn’t shake his hand, but when Owens got home he told me President Roosevelt wouldn’t shake him. not the hand either. Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in baseball and bore the physical and psychological scars of doing so.
At the height of his career, Muhammad Ali, who became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, paid the price for the years stolen from his career. Every athlete should be grateful to Curt Flood for ending the reservation clause and giving the athletes the free will right to negotiate the best possible deal. Colin Kaepernick launched his non-violent campaign against the murders of blacks by police four years ago, which cost him his career.
The athletes had to stop their usual activities to gain attention. They have participated in intense meetings to determine how they can be most effective. They understand that the murders cannot continue; the system must change. They call on others to join them. They are putting their time and resources on the line. They have now convinced NBA owners to turn their arenas into polling stations where people could vote safely.
Their actions have already produced their effects. It is too easy for cynical politicians and entrenched interests to divert attention from injustice to the excesses that spoil those who protest it. The players brought our attention back to injustice and the fundamental demand that Black Lives Matter. For that, they deserve our respect and our support.
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