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How Sports and Protesting Go Hand in Hand By Mark Hollis

The recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has shed light on the plight of what it’s like being black in America. The killing of Floyd had been captured on a cellphone video by an onlooker, who, along with others, watched as he pleaded for his life. As a result of the taping, Chauvin, along with three police accomplices, were arrested on murder charges. The impact of George Floyd’s death has now resulted in a worldwide protest of the injustice and abuse perpetrated by police departments in many communities across the country.

With the advent of protesting, we are witnessing a change in society for wanting to hold accountable those officers participating in police brutality. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee in 2016, it wasn’t to dishonor the flag but to bring awareness of how African Americans were being treated by the police. Kaepernick lost his career as a star quarterback and was blackballed from playing. But he wasn’t the first one or alone in his beliefs. Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the military in 1966, citing his religious reasons and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion, and stripped of his boxing titles. Olympic greats Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a fist while accepting their medals on the winner’s podium in 1968. Their clenched fists were to draw international attention to the racial discrimination being perpetrated in the United States. Those two were treated like pariahs afterward. Now that closed, raised fist is being displayed by the multitudes in the protests happening today.

Many professional players have also stepped up to voice their comradely, including Michael Jordan and Lebron James. Personally, I encourage all the sports teams and athletes to partner up with their respective communities and work with the officials to initiate a plan of action to bring about the changes needed. They need to be there, be seen, and use their voices to quell the concerns in the streets. Their voices will lend to redirecting the anger of the protests to help create a positive dialogue. In that same vein, I think a more genuine gesture from Rodger Goodell and the NFL teams would be to reach out to Colin Kaepernick with an apology and to work diligently in getting him back in the league. Failure to do so will only exacerbate the lack of trust with the current players.

My final thoughts are to express my support for peaceful protesting. Grassroots efforts are in need now, and I look forward to seeing who the “new voices” that will come out of this protesting to heal the country. George Floyd’s memory should not be taken in vain.