ESPN recently published an article about the Derek Chauvin verdict which graded the manner in which professional sports leagues kept their promises following the death of George Floyd. Specifically, how have they fought against racism and systemic violence of police toward African Americans? Several leagues and many players called out race as the determining factor in Floyd’s death; they decided to work toward abolishing it by employing politics and divisive tactics.
Almost immediately following the death of Floyd last year, the NBA enlisted warm-up gear with the large emboldened slogan, #BlackLivesMatter, along with placing the slogan on the most prominent part of the court when viewing games on television. Players were also free to place a phrase from an approved list on the back of their jersey, expressing their views on systemic racism in America. Players could choose from “BLM,” “Peace,” “Equality,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and other words that portrayed to the world their beliefs.
Many players spoke about how their public platform gave them the right and ability to speak on these matters. However, their words were often tainted with illogical statements and more divisive rhetoric. Our society accepts this without deliberately contemplating what we are signing off on. The ability to succeed at your sport, or any career for that matter, does not automatically make you an expert on civil matters or police reform.