Sports

#sportstalk: Why athletes won’t and can’t just “stick to sports”

When I’m writing this post, the sports world has been shaken up. Most notably the NFL, but other leagues such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB have been also. With the current political climate, systematic racism and blatant white supremacy, there’s no way athletes won’t and can’t just stick to sports.

As a sports fan, I’ve personally never understood why fans only wanted their athletes to “stick to sports.” It always baffled me when people said it and it still does. Basically what they’re saying is they want the athletes to go out and entertain them and that’s it. You don’t want them to have any substance or life outside of their sport.

That’s not only completely ridiculous but also unrealistic and hypocritical. Let’s tackle that first word. It’s ridiculous to assume players are just going to put their heads down and play sports. They weren’t put on their earth to just play sports. They’re humans with feelings, emotions, and families just like everyone else.

It’s unrealistic because no one can just center their life around sports. Not one single person only thinks or plays sports all day long. Then sports would no longer be fun or entertaining. Everything would be boring and there’s already enough of that in the world.

Hypocritical can stretch out to anything but I want to deal with the protests. No one looks at JJ Watt and tells him to “just stick to sports.” No one looks at Gronk and tells him to “Just stick to sports.” It’s white privilege that makes them not say anything. As soon as someone noticed Kap, everyone was quick to shun him, create offensive t-shirts, make him into a meme or bash his character.

Kap created a camp for black children to learn how to deal with the police, donated almost a million dollars to various charities working in oppressed communities and has just announced the addition of another camp. No one wants to talk about what good he does and instead focus on the way he protested.

The protest that originally started as a way to bring attention to police brutality, black lives matter and inequality in the United States. It has since been reduced to “disrespecting the American flag and our military.” Then again, people would have a problem no matter how or what the athletes protested.

Sticking to sports takes the athlete’s identity and throws it out the window. Football is their career, but it’s not their everything. As evidenced by the video of Michael Bennett, being an NFL player doesn’t spare you from police brutality. He was almost killed after an incident he wasn’t involved in. Just let that sink in for a moment. He was almost killed for not being involved with an incident and instead for being black.

If that thought doesn’t sicken you, there’s something wrong with you. If you push the protest off as being unamerican, you’re the problem. Making a change in the world sometimes means making a change in yourself and looking inward.That’s what athletes are doing and trying to get others to do. Systematic racism will only change if the system changes and the system will only change if people make it change.

Athletes will no longer just stick to sports and it’s about time. They’re putting their lives at risk every day, sometimes just by walking outside. The least you can do is respect them.

 

NFL · Sports

Torrey Smith is NFL’s voice of reason for Colin Kaepernick

Being on an NFL team is always difficult especially because you never have job security. Colin Kaepernick knows this all too well. What originally began as a promising career has fizzled as fast as RGIII’s time with the Cleveland Browns.

When Kaepernick decided to protest the national anthem, a bigger spotlight went on him but not for the right reasons. We weren’t talking about his playing time but what he was doing before the game. Fans of the NFL and non-fans alike have shunned him, sent him death threats, assaulted and harassed him. Many players sided with him, either copying his gesture or making their own statement. Either way, it got the world talking about issues like Kaepernick hoped.

However, the move seemed to blackball him from the rest of the NFL. While some teams spoke about the player’s choice, others vehemently spoke about cutting them. Most recently, New York Giants’ co-owner, John Mara spoke about it. Reported by ESPN, Mara talked about receiving impassioned fanmail, “‘If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.” Interesting considering the Giants recent scandals involving domestic violence and off-the-field behavior.

People weren’t pleased with his statement but most of all, Torrey Smith. Smith who currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles is a former teammate of Kaepernick’s and he tweeted out his thoughts after.

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869209085207597057

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869220488861679616

Smith’s first tweet is something I’ve always thought about NFL fans. They are completely hypocritical with their morals and values. If they have a love for a player, he should get a second chance or if he didn’t commit a “heinous crime” in their opinion, he needs to be forgiven and everyone is being too harsh on him. Being from Pennsylvania, I see a lot of this when people refer to Ben Roethlisberger who settled with two women out of court but was accused of sexual assault. Even though we have nothing to prove his guilt or innocence, fans quickly defended him. Instead of seeing the women as victims, they saw him as a victim. That’s just an example but something fans have found excusable.

Then his second tweet is even better because it calls out the hypocrisy of fans, coaches, players and teams. People associate kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of disrespect and were quick to vilify Kap but didn’t want to address the idea. They don’t want to be called out on their racism or prejudice, they want to ignore that issue and focus on his “hatred” for America which wasn’t it at all.

Looking at it from the other side, they’re praising teams who have criminals on their roster. Players such as Junior Galette, Joe Mixon, Terrell Suggs and James Harrison have all been accused or committed domestic violence. Then there’s sexual assault which players like Ben Roethlisberger, Ahmad Brooks, Jameis Winston and Richie Incognito have been accused of doing in some capacity. All of the players listed above are currently on active NFL rosters while Kaepernick reminds a free agent.

Do we see the problem here? People care more about their country than a woman. It’s disgusting to say, but men are more worried about a man sitting during a song than a man touching or putting his hands on a woman without her consent. It’s sickening to think that the NFL will cut players for domestic violence or sexual assault only when there’s evidence people can throw in their face. If not, then good for you because you’ll likely be on an NFL roster.

Torrey Smith was right with what he said. If people put half their energy into hating Kap as they did about standing up for women, the NFL would look a lot different. Hopefully, Kap gets another chance and the NFL starts to take sexual assault and domestic violence seriously. I’m crossing my fingers.