Blair Steeves
Sport and Politics Why?

Sport and Politics Why?

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We were reminded this past week just how unsettled society still is. USA is in the middle of a cultural meltdown. Donald Trump continues to show how unqualified he is to handle the world and its differences. The term melting pot society suggests that when you come to the United States you must blend or adhere to the already set culture and ideology. Guess what – it doesn’t work!! Making matters worse is the blending of intolerance, bigotry, and race based hatred. A perfect storm is brewing.

Video credit: TMZ: Michael Bennett Police Takedown Video
Michael Bennett Las Vegas Take Down
Photo credit: TMZ

The sad events that occurred in Charlottesville last week have triggered off a national, even international, debate. The President’s leadership has created a huge backlash. Trump had to come back to the public with a more condemning position of hate crime. Trump’s original statement that both sides had a part to play in the tragedy was disgusting and unacceptable. When the highest position in the free world sends a message that minorities don’t matter, that hate crimes are a shared blame when they occur against black America is frankly a stain on what freedom stands for.

Hate and intolerance – what can make it stop? How does a nation built on ethnic diversity become a nation of people who share in love, peace and acceptance? Well, it starts with athletes, celebrities, and more specifically everyday people coming together. Sport has always had a special place in easing racial tension. The dressing room brings people from different cultures and races together to become one. It is part of what makes a team great, a willingness and understanding of how differences make it work. Teams need different pieces to come together to be a champion. You don’t build a football team with only receivers, you don’t build a baseball team with just outfielders. Teams are a unique blend of speed, power, size and personalities. It is this requirement that bring different cultures within the room together. Sports wants and needs diversification.

B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono sports a “Diversity is Strength” T-shirt on the sidelines before taking on the Saskatchewan Roughriders in CFL football action in Regina on Sunday, August 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor

The CFL has launched a campaign that embraces it. The players and coaches are wearing gear that says, “Diversity is Strength” It was being launched with or without the Charlottesville tragedy but it was moved forward for obvious reasons. It showed leadership and understanding by the newly appointed commissioner of the CFL Randy Ambrosie. It caught the attention of American media. It showed the world still believes in race tolerance and the need for understanding verse indifference. When China becomes the voice of reason between USA and North Korea, you know President Trump is a lost leader who thinks, “The louder I speak the more I show ignorance the more I will be heard.”

The latest display of athletes coming together from different races happened in Seattle. Michael Bennett and Justin Britt, together made statement that we can be different yet come together. Bennett sat during the anthem while teammate Justin Britt stood next to him with his hand on Bennett’s shoulder. In post game interviews, Britt said he believes in the Anthem and he believes in the army, but he said, “It is also my job to understand.” He acknowledged his world is different.

Justin Britt Puts Hand on Shoulder of Michael Bennett During National Anthem Protest – Yahoo News

“I’m not foolish. I’m from Missouri. I get things are different in that area then in some other areas. I’m not against what the flag means and veterans. My dad was in the army. I’m not putting any disrespect to them. I’m just trying to support. I’m going to continue to understand and what’s going on in the world and happening. I’m going to continue talking with Mike and exploring and just helping myself understand things. I’m wanted to take a first step tonight, and that’s what I felt I did”

Cultures are different, beliefs are different people are different, but that’s what should make a society special and powerful. Diversity is Strength…3 simple words that carry so much weight. Violent crimes against minorities need to be condemned and exposed for what it is. When we were kids on the playground it was referred to as bullying.

There is no place for hate because of skin color or faith. It is not for a fanatical group of white separatists to enforce their hate and ignorance on a free society. It is the responsibility of our leaders to punish these groups with the full extent of the law. Period. There is no grey area. The President’s job is to set the tone to bring change to the laws that protect hate groups rights and allow fear to be apart of minorities everyday life. Leadership is crucial to making real change. Change that brings most Americans together and begins the process of stamping out race crimes at all levels. Government must take a stand based on what is right, not fearful of loud minority special interest groups who bring the power of an organized vote. History will show that unless the message of love and peace has a voice that is loud and powerful; the bully in the school yard will continue to be allowed to bring fear and hate to our world.

Sport is the perfect place to show how differences can offer strength. When a team stands together to face adversity it brings both a platform and voice to stand against these egregious acts. We don’t have to agree with each other, we don’t have to pray together, but we do need to respect each other and our differences. It’s time we set an example for the future generations that love and tolerance is a stronger force then hate. The future will be our judge and jury. How do we want to be viewed by the next generation? A society that stood for the unacceptable, or the one who made a change in direction. One that asked more, challenged beliefs, drove hate into a dark room and closed the door on it.

I know how I want my kids and their kids to view my actions. The time of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, doesn’t mean there is no evil. Let’s make a change by standing up to hate.


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