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Although The NBA is 81% black, there are merely three minority owners out of thirty teams. After the racist comments made in 2014 from Donald Sterling, the NBA has admitted they have a problem with not just their owners, but fans and basketball advocates in general. Athletes risk their body night in and night out, only for millions of fans to put them down for their performance.
In March of 2019 Russell Westbrook, a point guard currently playing for the Houston Rockets confronted a fan who used racial slurs. Westbrook did not back down and challenged the fan who is now banned from all games. Just like actors and singers, basketball players are performers that get paid to entertain. And in 2020 there’s no excuse to not have a political voice with the platform the players hold.
For the past five years, the NBA has been revolutionary with its mission statement propelled by the NBA Player’s Association. When LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony got up on stage during the ESPYS, they made a riveting statement heard by millions: The United States is a country divided and the black body is undervalued.
Now, a few years later black people are still getting killed on the streets and even in their homes. NBA players are fed up with it. They had to risk their lives to go live in a bubble to entertain the same people who fight to keep America unequal and divided. Led by the leaders of the Player’s Association, many steps were taken in order to shed light on the deaths and assaults, things far more important than a ball going in a hoop.
Many players donated their paychecks to charitable organizations. The owners committed to turning their arenas into polling stations. Players and coaches wore statements like “equality” and “Say Her Name” on their jerseys and uniforms. Black Lives Matter was painted on the court. Players knelt in solidarity just as Colin Kaepernick did so few years ago. Because of these efforts led by Kapernick and Lebron, there is now a strong coalition of players all fighting, and advocating for equality.
In order to relay the demand for change sparked by athletes such as Kaepernick, James, and Westbrook, it is important that we incorporate some of those same values into our Grace sports teams. While sports are currently on hold throughout high schools in the city, implementing these values should be done sooner rather than later. Sports teams at Grace need to come together in the same ways that the NBA came together to create a sense of community that is bonded by inclusion.
Sports should be an outlet for kids, not a place where racism and discrimination can find its way onto the field. At Grace, there have been accounts of racist comments being made during competition by both students from, and against our school. As a start, it would be beneficial to make an agreement or statement released by ACIS in which racism is condemned and not tolerated whatsoever, and in any violation of this agreement can result in disciplinary action. However this is just a start; it is our responsibility to discontinue the toleration of racism in sports, following in the footsteps of the professional athletes that are taking a stand.