There is so much more to the world of professional sports, than just the sport itself. Sports touch so many lives in so many ways that it can be used to help change social injustices or unfortunately, help create them. Jackie Robinson was brave enough to help break the colour barrier knowing that there were many that would not accept him. He didn’t start a rally or raise an army, he just played baseball. Muhammad Ali on the other hand, spoke out about the injustices and for that was stripped of his championship and banned from boxing during the prime of his life. These athletes are legends because sports gave them a platform and whether by words or by actions used that platform to draw attention to what is wrong with society. They didn’t solve the issue of race but they made damn sure it wasn’t forgotten about it prompting everyone to discuss it. The easiest and best way that a solution can be found is by the two disagreeing parties to have a conversation. A conversation that is free from ridicule, free from blame and especially free from hate. The more divisive we are, the more violent we are and the more we criticize other, the less chance we ever have of improving our society.
This week we had two occasions where sport was used as a platform. During the 2016 Espy awards (for a reference point this is the ‘Academy Awards’ of sports) four of the top NBA stars, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James started the show with a message. It was an acknowledgement that there is still an issue with race in North America. It was not one of finger pointing or blame, it was to once again shed light upon the situation. They told all athletes that it was their responsibility to keep driving the message and that it was the responsibility of all of us to work together until this injustice is resolved.
A day earlier at the 2016 MLB All-Star game a somewhat similar message was delivered. Remigio Pereira of the group The Tenors changed the lyrics of the Canadian National Anthem by stating, “We’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great.” Now obviously, there was a huge difference here as personally, I can’t think of a single occasion where it is wise to change the lyrics of an anthem even if it is in an attempt to unite people together. Yet, he has been kicked out of the Tenors and he has been vilified in the media. I am not saying his punishment isn’t justified but why is there so much blind hate out there towards him? I say blind because I read too many angry Twitter and Facebook postings of people who did not even know what lyrics were changed, were wrong about the lyrics that were changed and also decided for themselves the reasons why he changed them. It seems that social media is society’s new judge and jury and that it easily and dangerously incites a mob mentality. All I am asking is that before you point fingers, before you criticize and before you take to the internet to feed the hatred, understand that if you are truly interested in resolving the issue, peaceful protests like those by Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. bring about positive change while hatred and violence only strengthens the resolve of your opponent.
— LizzLocker (@Lizzs_Lockeroom) July 13, 2016
I wish I was capable of knowing the intent and reason behind why people act and say certain things, but I don’t. I wish I was smart enough to be able to explain what is right and what is wrong and be able to explain it in an unemotional way so that all people can understand, but I can’t. What I can do is let you know that you can either be a positive voice for change that unites the world in a peaceful way or you can spew forth venom and escalate the violence that keeps us divided.
The choice is yours.
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