Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Athletes and Their Power (A Sports Take on Trayvon Martin)

Amidst my many moods regarding George Zimmerman being acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, one thing did brighten my face. The slew of athletes who were outraged and disappointed at the verdict.

I save all of my non-sports thoughts at Virgo Gumbo so I'll direct you for my full thoughts on this latest miscarriage of justice. Here, I want to speak to the athletes who were like many of us over the weekend.

As angry as you are, you men and women have great power in your hands. Not just to be retweeted for any old reason but you have influence over your followers to do more than just promote yourselves, your craft or your league. Your reactions made national news and deservedly so.

One look at the Miami Heat posting a picture in their hoodies is a reminder that when you do something noteworthy, it will be celebrated. I know that folks like Rashard Mendenhall, Etan Thomas and a few others have carried the mantle of athlete-activists and folks like Donte Stallworth are thought-provoking as they are fun.

They say sports and politics don't mix. As Howard Bryant reminded us, they always do. They mix when the sport dictates what politics are acceptable. It's time for you to take the anger from the verdict and use it wisely for future causes you find acceptable to rally behind.
I'm not saying you need to be Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood, Spencer Haywood, Bill Russell or more from the 1960's and 70's who joined with movements that shook up this country. I only hope you realize that your voice has weight and when the time is right, you'll raise it again along with action and support.

If there is a sports positive from this is that I hope it inspires athletes professional and "amateur" to realize that no matter how good they are in sports, there's a world bigger than them and sometimes, they can feel free to speak up more often.

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