Athletes Take a Stand

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and what better way to start back up than talking about athletes with a cause, right?

These past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of police-civilian tension because of two incidences where officers weren’t indicted for killing two black males, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of New York. Many have spoken out about it and professional athletes are no different.

It all started with a few St. Louis Rams players, who came out before a game with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture, made famous after Brown’s murder. Following that, other football players wore shirts that said, “I can’t breathe,” the now infamous words spoken by Garner, who was strangled on camera by the police.

NBA players began to do the same thing, with Derrick Rose being the first person to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. It then caught on and teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (pictured above) wore the shirts together. Though it has drawn some controversy, and whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact that athletes are using their platforms for a cause is respectable. It isn’t unpopular to see them promoting clubs, alcoholic beverages and other products, so why not stand with and promote a cause?

This isn’t something uncommon for athletes of old to do. In 1968 during the Olympics, as they received their medals, track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and lifted their fists as a way to promote black pride. Though the two were suspended, they stood for something. Other athletes like Muhammad Ali also made their political views known without worry or care.

So often athletes are looked to as role models and even idolized for their performances on the court or field, but their behavior outside of that is less than flattering. But now, there are those who choose to make their views known by supporting a larger message. They can score all the points, get all the touchdowns and score as many home runs as they can, but being able to use their fame to promote justice and social change (or at least conversation about either two), is nothing less than admirable. That’s something to look up to.

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Violence Against Women Running Rampant in Pro Sports

In the last few months, it feels like there’s been at least one athlete every other week who is being arrested or charged with hitting, beating and/or raping a woman. This includes both college and professional athletes.

The first case was Ray Rice’s incident with his then fiance, now wife a few months ago. Greg Hardy followed suit when he beat up his girlfriend in May. Then, there was the football player, Joe Mixon, at Oklahoma State who punched a woman at a cafe a couple weeks ago. Also in the Big 12, two UT football players were accused of and released from the football team for raping a woman. The latest case comes in the form of former Miami Heat center Greg Oden punching his ex-girlfriend and formally charged Monday (today) with felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury, misdemeanor domestic battery, and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

My question is: when will it end? Why do men think it’s okay to beat on women, especially ones they supposedly care enough about to be with intimately? Why aren’t women valued and respected?

And to my fellow females: Why subject yourself to this? If he hit you once, chances are he’ll do it again. So, why stay? Never underestimate your value or feel like you deserved it. I’m not just referring to physical violence, but sexual as well. No matter what anyone says, there is no outfit, attitude or actions performed that make you the cause of being sexually violated. There are many organizations and people who teach women how to prevent being raped, but what about teaching men and boys how to prevent raping?

The worst part is the lack of severity in the punishment of these athletes. If they are found guilty, sitting out two games isn’t enough. Being dropped from a team isn’t enough. Criminal charges should be enforced. If Michael Vick served time in jail and was dropped from the Atlanta Falcons for fighting dogs (he wasn’t the only one fighting them in that situation, by the way), how much more should you do to punish someone who violated  a human life?

I don’t consider myself a feminist, but as a woman, I know my worth as I feel every woman should. No woman, or any person for that matter, deserves to be violated in any way, shape or form. The fact that rapes and domestic abuse situations are becoming more frequent show that something needs to be done. The time is now to crack down on this recurrent issue.

When the punishments begin to become more severe and people ignore the fact that it’s an athlete committing the crime, then and only then will men begin to think a little harder before they act.

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Football and Basketball Collide: Anti-Redskins Commercial To Air During Finals Game

The San Antonio Spurs won the first game of the NBA Finals and the Miami Heat took the second. As if there wasn’t enough excitement about tonight’s game three, an anti-Redskins commercial is set to air sometime during one of the game’s commercial breaks. The controversy over the use of the word ‘Redskins’ has been going on for a while now. Native Americans have spoke out against it, saying the word is a racial slur and are offended by it. As if the word isn’t enough, Native Americans are reminded of them being “redskins” by the use of a Native American man wearing a feather for the Washington logo.

However, the NFL sees nothing wrong with it and Washington owner Daniel Snyder says, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

I find it interesting how someone like Donald Sterling is booted out of the NBA for something he said in a private conversation, yet the NFL is doing nothing about a racial slur used over and over again because it’s the name of a team.

In my opinion, it largely has to do with the fact that the Native American population is too small and there aren’t enough people standing behind them. If the team name was the Washington (enter African American or Hispanic slur here), it wouldn’t be tolerated. In fact, it’s unfathomable that a professional sports team would do that. So why, then, is it any different for Native Americans, the people who were killed and relocated in their own homeland?

Last month, Seattle Seahawks corner back Richard Sherman spoke out about the Donald Sterling scandal, stating the NFL wouldn’t have banned Sterling and cited the Washington football team as evidence.

“We have an NFL team called the Redskins,” he said. “I don’t think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom line league. If it doesn’t affect their bottom line, they’re not as concerned.”

For what it’s worth, I agree with the champion corner back. The NFL has shown what they represent by allowing a word that 67 percent of Native Americans deem offensive for the sake of “that’s the way it’s always been” and revenue. Hopefully, Native Americans can generate more support from NFL players and fans alike so that the Washington football team name can be changed.

Game three tip-off is set for 9 p.m. EST on ABC. To see the commercial before tonight’s game, view below:

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Positive Players: Celebrating Philanthropy among Athletes

On Wednesday night, a young man by the name of Joshua Jones passed away after a battle with brain cancer.

He was first introduced to the media after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ center fielder Matt Kemp gave him a signed ball, the jersey Kemp was wearing and a pair of shoes right off of Kemp’s feet. From that point on, the two became friends and when Jones died, Kemp took it hard.

At this moment, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is in Tanzania, hanging bed nets in huts as part of the anti-malaria program Nothing But Nets. He was away from his wife for their second anniversary and one-year-old daughter to go to Africa and help out people living in unimaginable conditions.

No one forced either of these men to do what they did, but they did it anyway.

Many times athletes are highlighted in the media for getting into legal trouble, leaving a party with a car full of women or trashing hotel rooms. Too often the positive actions are ignored or brushed over.

For the athletes, it is okay because they’re not doing it for public attention. However, as a sports fan, it is nice to see good behavior highlighted instead of the bad always being plastered across various media outlets,

This summer, when they could be practicing their game and preparing for their own season, players like Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Nick Young, Rajon Rondo and even younger players like Ray McCallum, Trey Burke and Andre Drummond will be hosting summer basketball  camps for kids. These camps help kids to learn the fundamentals of basketball while having fun with the NBA players they idolize.

The only time people ever hear about these players doing this is when children are solicited to register for the camps. No one really pays attention to players who maintain clean records and invest more in philanthropy than partying. Why is that?

This is definitely something that needs to be changed. When younger viewers watch television and all they see are the athletes who get in trouble, what message does that send to them?

Recently, Johnny Manziel and Aaron Rodriguez have been in the news for doing things that are not considered positive. However, very few know about programs like Nothing But Nets or even NBA Cares. Players who have founded and/or participate in programs dedicated to helping others should be highlighted.

By doing this, it will show kids who look up to these men that you can be an athlete and still be positive. Spending more time helping others who may not have as much as you is more rewarding than buying the latest basketball sneakers or having Dr. Dre’s newest pair of headphones.

Though it may not mean much, I applaud each of the above mentioned men and any other athletes out there using their celebrity status to help improve the lives of others by donating their money and/or time. Hopefully, one day, these will be the actions that we, as a society, focus on and celebrate more.

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The case of Aaron Hernandez and other professional athletes

Normally, I stick with writing basketball, but this issue of professional athletes getting into trouble with the law has been ever-present for a long time.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, 23, has been arrested and will be charged with first-degree murder (the original charge was obstruction of justice) for the execution-style slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. For the full story of Lloyd’s murder and Hernandez’s connection to it, click here.

In addition to the charges, Hernandez has been released from the Patriots, lost many of his endorsements and his name and likeness has been removed from almost every inch of his former school, University of Florida. He also has a seven-month-old son. This is quite a bit to give up just to “deal with” a friend solely because he “talked to the wrong people.”

Hernandez has not been the first football player, or even athlete, to have to go to court in connection with a crime.

There have been many cases in which athletes have been caught driving under the influence of alcohol, caught with drugs and even been charged with things like sexual assault and murder. Why can’t these young men maintain a clean record?

To add a little background information: A good percentage of the young men that enter sports, particularly football and basketball, come from rough backgrounds. They feel that their way out is through some form of sport. As a result, they work hard, get scholarships to a university and eventually make it to the pros.

Despite their environmental change, there are patterns and habits that were created within them that do not leave and still associate with the same people. This is okay if the people that they previously associated with them can understand and support their new life, but there are those old friends that are not on the straight path, for lack of a better term.

A few years ago, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was charged and went to jail for dog fighting. He was not the only one engaging in this activity, but was the only one out of his friends that was charged (I wonder why).

For some reason, many guys cannot shake the old attitude and thought pattern as before. They think that it is okay to engage in illegal activity and won’t have to deal with any consequences.

As humans, we are all going to mess up, but why is it that so many athletes have problems with the law?

To alleviate some of these problems, the NFL has decided to have the police research the tattoos of any prospects. This may help, but what happens to the ones that do not publicly display them on their body? What happens to the guys who have tattoos solely as a way of expressing themselves and are not affiliated with a gang?

I believe that there should be some kind of transitional program that college athletes should participate in to help them mentally get out of that rough neighborhood. I am not saying that this happens to every athlete that came from poverty, but there are those who need something like this. Maybe then we can have less players in court and more that stay on the court.

Categories: football, New England Patriots, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Robin Roberts honored at the ESPYS

Last night, ESPN held the ESPYS, the sports version of the Oscars, hosted by Jon Hamm. It was filled with tears, laughs and all-around fun.

Hamm started out with a funny monologue, covering topics from Dwight Howard leaving the Lakers to actor-athlete differences.

LeBron James took home the most awards, winning Best NBA Player, Best Championship Performance and Best Male Athlete individually and Best Team and Best Game as part of the Miami Heat team.

Other award winners include Brittney Griner for Best Female College Athlete; Adrian Peterson for Best NFL Player; Colin Kaepernick for Best Breakthrough Athlete; Serena Williams for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player; Rick Pitino for Best Coach/Manager; and Jack Hoffman TD during Nebraska spring game for Best Moment.

The most touching moments of the night were Robin Roberts honored with the Arthur Ashe Award and Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perserverance Award.

As an African American female looking to go into journalism, Roberts is a personal inspiration. Her body of work is amazing and she has warmed the hearts of many.

The Hoyts were a reminder of how people were affected by the Boston bombing, but no matter what, you should never give up. The bond between the father and son is one that cannot be manufactured nor broken. They exemplify their city’s new-found saying, “Boston Strong.”

Overall, the ESPYS were put together well and everything flowed nicely. It was a great evening to honor great athletes and even greater people.

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