Milestones, Missteps and Mistakes – Various Sports Figures Take On Anthem Protests

Well, that was an action packed few days. The statements and tweets from the man in the white-colored house sparked a litany of events. To the untrained eye, many may have gone unnoticed. Between the kneeling, sitting, faux-outrage from NFL owners, and Jerry Jones all-lives mattering Colin Kaepernick’s protest aimed at raising awareness to systematic injustices perpetrated against black and brown lives, here is a look at what you may have missed.  

NASCAR still doesn’t like ‘the blacks’

Keep it real, people. Raise your hand if you watch NASCAR. Now everyone that is not black, put your hand down. So the four of you with your hands still up, you may want to find a new hobby.

NASCAR decided to remind people this weekend why it is the national sport of the Confederacy and white supremacy. Team owner Richard Petty summed up his anti-black sentiment perfectly with his oh-so eloquent quote. “Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period. If they don’t appreciate where they’re at… what got them where they’re at? The United States.”

Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in NASCAR. PHOTO BY LAT Photographic

A 2011 study of NASCAR showed that black people only comprised eight percent of its viewership. It’s no surprise that some fans wear racist clothing, that even after the Confederate flag was banned by the sport, fans still proudly and unapologetically fly it anyway, and that many of its owners side with the man in the white-colored house.  

All I can say is, Bubba Wallace, black America is praying for you.  

Cuz I’m Really From Oakland, Though

Black people (and others whom are woke), let us slow clap for Bruce Maxwell. Continuing with the movement born out of the Bay Area, the Oakland Athletics catcher took a knee during the anthem for two straight games this past weekend.  

Maxwell who said he has received a good amount of threats and support, is deciding to stand firmly for what he believes. He told John Shea at the San Francisco Chronicle

The whole point of this is to inform people there is a problem. That’s what all these actions are going on around the NFL and NBA and now on the baseball field. It’s to inform people that there are people in this country being mistreated because of the color of their skin or where they come from or their heritage, and that’s what why I’m doing it.

It is refreshing to see a player of color in a sport that is almost 70 percent white and who makes just over $500K (paltry compared to the majority of other players) hold firm in their beliefs and commitment to the underserved. Especially when a multi-millionaire wide receiver tell us that he cannot be concerned with protesting because he has “a family to feed.”  

Meanwhile in San Jose

Joel Ward, everyone’s favorite black hockey player has decided that the time is now to consider taking a stand against racism. Ward, who is one of about 30 black players in the NHL has faced his fair share of racism over the years. During his time in Washington, he defeated the Boston Bruins in the 2012 playoffs with a Game 7, overtime slapshot to stun the New England hockey team. The racism from fans came at him as fast as the slapshot he produced to win the game.

Days ago, Ward stated that while he hasn’t “really sat down to think about [protesting] too much yet, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to it.” As an underrepresented person in a sport that is overwhelmingly white, Ward easily articulates what the protests are about, and why they are necessary. “’It’s just been part of life that you always have to deal with,’ Ward said of racism. ‘So when people get into Kaepernick and some of these other guys, saying that they’re disrespecting the flag, it’s not about just that. It’s about creating awareness about what people, like myself, go through on a day-to-day basis.'”

Here’s to hoping that Ward does take a knee. He may be alone on the ice, but people everywhere are kneeling with him.

New Championship. Who Dis?

While the man in the white-colored house was busy “disinviting” Stephen Curry, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team was struggling to find an open date in their calendar. An astonishing “scheduling conflict” which spanned “eight or nine” dates will keep the Tar Heels from visiting the White House, which is typically a tradition in which the NCAA champion from the previous year participates.

Are they taking a stand? Did UNC’s spontaneous unavailability have anything to do with the comments from the weekend? Of course not. It is normal for a college basketball team that is only a one-hour flight from Washington, DC to have zero open calendar dates to visit the person who holds the most important position on Earth.

Pittsburgh just doesn’t get it

First, the Steelers decide to stay in the locker room during their NFL match. Except for U.S. Army veteran Alejandro Villaneuva who decided to stand alone outside of the tunnel. Then, he says he made a mistake and threw his teammates “under the bus.” 

Only hours later, QB Ben Rothlisberger decides that he “couldn’t sleep” and regrets doing anything. At the same time, the team owner tells the world that their actions were not a boycott. So essentially, the Steelers made a stand by doing nothing, and have to make sure their fans understand just how passive they truly were attempting to be.

Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the racist Pittsburgh fire chief that Mike Tomlin wasn’t attempting to do anything political. Pat Smith resigned after calling coach Tomlin a n**ger. But to be clear, Pittsburgh has no reason to get involved in political statements. They wouldn’t want to further upset Rothlisberger’s precious sleep.

Second, the Stanley Cup champion Penguins decided that the comments from the man in the white-colored house were not enough to deter them from visiting. Golden boy Sidney Crosby called attending the White House a “great honor.”  It is such a great honor, however, that the mayor of the city decided not to attend, citing the recent tweets as his reason against going.

At least Philadelphia is a straight shot along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

USA Soccer doubled down on its anti-kneeling policy

The good: Megan Rapinoe, the white female attacking midfielder/winger for the United States Women’s National Team who decided last year that she needed to support Kaepernick’s stance and kneel during two national team matches, was back at it. Rapinoe and a number of her Seattle Reign teammates from the National Women’s Soccer League decided to stay inside for the anthem on Sunday.

Megan Rapinoe was one of the first non-black athletes to kneel during the national anthem in 2016. (Credit: SI.com)

The bad: The U.S. Soccer Federation made it policy in February (after Rapinoe knelt) that all players needed to stand during national team appearances. U.S. Soccer decided to ensure that everyone knew where they stood on the matter one more time by stating their policy “remains in place.”

Ray Lewis is still out here tap-dancing away from black people

SMH.

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