We are living through history in the year 2020. A worldwide pandemic, a national uproar against racial inequality and a presidential election like no other have dominated the news. The world is changing day by day, week by week. While the memes exaggerate it a bunch, it really does seem like bad news pops up every so often. It’s very hard to ignore. Some would even say impossible. So why are people still saying that sports figures – from athletes to journalists – should just stick to the sports?
My first question to them is “Why?” Why should these people, who live in the same everchanging reality you do, just stick to their industry? Honestly, if that were the case, if the only thing I had to deal with and worry about was sports, I would truly be in heaven. Imagine not having to worry whether your friends of color will make it back if they go for a jog, or if they look suspicious to some cops while driving to work or, God forbid, if they’re sleeping in their own bed at home.
The political climate we live in during these times is one of the most polarized and one of the most divided. Our nation can’t agree on how to save its citizens from a worldwide pandemic that’s killed millions. So why should we just stick to the sports, when everyone in this nation is needed to help get it back on track?
My second question is “How?” How do we just stick to sports when it affects us as well? Fans are easily the most important part of any sport. The fans are simply people of the nation, regular everyday citizens. For sports teams to simply ignore what happens outside of the court, the field or the pool; it’s just ignorant. One could say it’s indeed our duty to address what happens outside of sports, especially if it’s something with as much injustice as the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake.
My third and final question is “Why shouldn’t we?” Sports brings in some of the largest amounts of viewers in the world. The Super Bowl brought in 102 million viewers. The NBA Finals brought in over 15 million viewers on average. The MLB World Series brought in nearly 14 million viewers on average. The vast amount of attention given to sports is perfect to spread a message.
Why not use that platform to spread the message that Black lives matter? That police brutality isn’t acceptable? That systemic racism and injustice is not the American way? To spread these messages and strive for a better United States is one of the most American things athletes can do. To ignore so many of these injustices would be a slap in the face to those who are being oppressed and put down, some who are easily fans of these athletes. To have your role model ignore your hardships is heartbreaking.
So, to those who say stick to sports, I say no. I will not just stick to sports. I will cover my sport in a multi-faceted manner that looks at it from as many perspectives as possible, including the political and social justice perspective. It’s my duty as a journalist to inform the people about these things, and to fail to do that is to fail myself and my readers.