Appreciating sports icons and their legacy

On Friday, I was off work and my uncle and cousins decided to head to Washington D.C. which is roughly a 3-hour drive from where I live. We ended up taking the subway into the city to avoid high parking costs or trying to find a place.

We went to the air and space museum, the Holocaust museum and the African-American museum of history and culture. The last one was easily my favorite even though it was the one we spent the least amount of time in. To be honest, it was packed with people and I can see why you had to have tickets to get in.

However, the one thing I wanted to see was the sports section of the museum. Located on the 2nd floor, it was easily one of the best tributes to athletes I’ve ever seen. The sports section was located in another large section encompassing religion, medicine, and activism.

My favorite attraction was easily the entire Muhammad Ali exhibit. I’ve never really talked about it on here, but I love Muhammad Ali. While I wasn’t around when he was popular, I always harbored a respect and love for him. He’s my favorite athlete and someone I look up to as an inspiration and a pioneer for civil rights, religious rights, and the sports world.

I still remember the day he passed away. My editor at the time texted me and told me and I assumed it was just a health scare. Later that night, the news broke and I was crushed. Someone I had admired for so long was gone off the earth. Someone I’ve never had a chance to meet or tell how much he met to me. It was hard to believe, but he had suffered a majority of his life and I knew he had longed for peace.

It still didn’t ease my pain, but I felt relieved for him. Since then, I have become even more invested in Ali and his life. Going there, I was able to look around at the exhibit dedicated to him and his life. It was such a powerful and breathtaking experience and probably the closest I’ll ever get to see him. The exhibit shared all different parts of his life and I felt like I was right there.

That exhibit only helped me appreciate Ali for who he was, what he did and the legacy he left. I can’t wait to go back when it’s not as crowded and look over everything in detail but Ali wasn’t the only one I stopped and stared at for a while.

There were sections dedicated to a majority of historic black athletes. The other one that really blew me away was Jackie Robinson. While there weren’t much memorabilia for Robinson, he had a statue of him sliding into a base. Looking at it brought a smile to my face and made me think back to writing a paper on him.

Robinson left such an immense legacy in professional baseball and I can’t even imagine what he’d think now. He was also an activist and used his platform to try to make a change in the world. In the same vein, there was a statue of Jesse Owens. Owens raced in the Olympics in 1936 and is one of the most celebrated track-and-field stars ever. Both of their stories have been turned into water-downed movies with only some truth to them but their legacy lives on.

One of the more recent statues featured depicted Tommie Smith and John Carlos, reaching their fists during the medal ceremony. It’s another moment people tend to forget about but such a powerful one. I only got a brief glimpse at it, but it made me happy to see their gesture is appreciated.

Some of the most recent athletes featured were the Williams Sisters, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Gabby Douglas. It was so amazing to see these athletes being appreciated for their achievements in sports and seeing those already have a legacy and still are expanding on it. It was such a moving experience and one I highly recommend everyone to check out.

I have come to appreciate sports stars and their legacies a lot more since Ali’s passing and that’s something I hope others do. Yes, they’re here to entertain us but they’re people, too. I’m so glad I saw the few parts of the museum I did and a lot of great athletes were given the recognition they deserve.

I’ll probably make a longer post about my trip and share the pictures, but I figured why not share the impact it left on me? I’m so glad I was able to visit it for the short time I did and I can’t wait to go back and explore it further.


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