I haven’t made any political or social statements in any of my articles and have done the same with my social media accounts regarding the current state of affairs in American society.
I leave my Twitter account specifically and exclusively for sports-related items only and want to continue to do so in the future.
However, I cannot remain silent anymore because of this brutally honest quote.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― Edmund Burke (in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer.)
Sports fans largely are involved in the current affairs of our society because sports is a reflection of our society. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and began to spotlight change in our society, he made his statement by changing baseball since that sport reflected and defended the color lines that existed in America of 1947.
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson was an outsider looking in at one of the vestiges of American popular culture.
By the end of the 1947 baseball season, Jackie Robinson not only became an agent of positive social change, but he was also awarded the National League Rookie of the Year award proving that he along with other African-American players belonged in baseball.
Fast forward 73 years and it’s inconceivable to think that minorities aren’t an integral and fundamental part of American sports from fans all the way up to coaches and managers and into team management.
In fact, it’s basically impossible to think of professional sports without people of color because people of color are part of the very fabric of what makes America a shining beacon to the rest of the world. However, 2020 has vividly shown that fabric is unraveling at a fast pace.
We are still in the grasp of a deadly Covid-19 pandemic that daily brings tragedy to American families who continue to lose loved ones.
We have seen the largest downturn in the American economy since the Great Depression.
We have been forced to live our lives for the past three months largely away from most social contact with our neighbors, friends, loved ones, and co-workers.
We have witnessed the suspension or outright cancelation of every kind of sports that are at the foundation of the American popular culture.
And finally, we have discovered in ourselves that things are not right when we deal (and I mean WE as in all of us) with fellow Americans who come from different backgrounds or skin colors.
What can professional sports do to become agents of positive change again? Athletes are citizens first and foremost and many players from different sports have come out not only to speak out against injustice wherever and whenever it shows its ugly face but to speak for solutions.
In all reality, the NHL is the least diverse of all the professional sports with players of color making up only 43 out of 690 players on the opening day 2019-2020 season roster.
That statistic means that roughly 94% of NHL players are white Europeans or North Americans. While there may be a myriad of reasons why people of color aren’t necessarily attracted to hockey as a sport, remember, in 1947 there were multiple arguments as to why African-Americans wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t be in Major League Baseball until an agent of change in the form of Jackie Robinson came along and the wouldn’t, couldn’t and shouldn’t arguments began to disappear.
Current players on the Devils roster are leading the way to make an impact not only on the NHL but our daily culture.
Defenseman P.K. Subban, one of the 43 NHL players of color, has taken a leading role not only within the Devils but the league as well in speaking out against injustice with his impassioned plea to Change the Game.
“Change the Game means change the Narrative. The narrative has been the same: no justice. Justice has to happen, change needs to come. But we need everyone and all people to look at our lives and see how we can help that change and do our part. I’m committed to that; I’m committed to that through and through.” P.K. Subban, NHL.com/article by Chris Wescott.
If sports represents our society, then we need players like P.K. Subban to speak up against injustice and to become agents of change. We enjoy sports as a part of our lives because it gives us something positive to cheer about and in today’s sports world we see the players on our hometown teams as a part of us and we’re a part of each of them.
Right now we need players like P.K. Subban to help point out the injustices of our actions or inactions and also help point the way to help fulfill the dream that is so eloquently spelled out by three simple words that begin our U.S Constitution: “We the People.”
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