Why It's Cool To Stay Woke
To preface this article, this by no means will solve the world’s pressing problems rather it is a personal take from a concerned international citizen. It is not conclusive in terms of the deep and complicated issues it looks at but at OTG we refuse to stay in our lanes and with the platform we've been given it would be remiss of us not to use it; just like the athletes this article talks about.
“You know what? I think we could possibly save America.” Those were the words of Wizards guard Bradley Beal when responding to a question on the influence athletes can have in today’s troubling age of inequality and uncertainty. While those were no doubt hyperbolic comments, the sentiment rings true. People pay attention to what our athletic idols have to say. You go through the history of sport and names like Ali, Kareem and Russell among a string of others will inevitably come up when delving into the history of inequality within the United States. Along with Colin Kaepernick, today’s NBA players are taking the reigns on that front. It’s no longer frowned upon (especially in the country’s most progressive sporting league), nay, it is necessary.
When the leadership in the country’s highest institution is in disarray (I couldn’t think of a more impactful adjective to adequately categorise it) the masses look to people like LeBron James, Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr and many others to be the voice they can’t.
When you see the game’s top names speaking out it empowers those around them to express their thoughts despite the possible repercussions. Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox put it best:
“The best players do it… and people will actually listen to them. Not just hear them but listen and take action.”
Media days across the league were dominated by Trump talk and the response players would have after he eloquently (sarcasm) called NFL players who protest the anthem “sons of bitches”. Adam Silver voiced his support for his players but at the same time remained steadfast in his views on player’s kneeling for the national anthem. It not only goes against the league’s ideals as a whole but also Silver’s personally. This was a man who rode on a float at New York City’s gay pride parade yet on the other hand said he “expected” his players to stand during the national anthem. True equality can never be achieved if a few feathers aren't ruffled along the way. Protesting by nature is uncomfortable, that's why I saw this as a cop out from Silver. He may think he's justified in his stance on an antiquated rule due to the possible economical ramifications but this to me was a b**ch move by an otherwise strong leader who caved to his old white shareholders and the lure of the dollar.
I'm hoping for at least one player or team to take the lead of Kaepernick and make the stand (pun intended) this season and keep pushing the necessary agenda for the good of the people. On another note as an Australian I don't see the point in broadcasting the anthem at every possible sporting event. Our national anthem is played at the important events and days on the Australian calendar: Anzac Day, Australia Day, finals games (our version of playoffs) and the like. To me it devalues the significance of the anthem itself by playing it so adhoc.
Going back to Beal’s comments while they may seem exaggerated in isolation when taken into context they fully make sense, especially when you look at the quote in full:
“You know what? I think we could possibly save America. Professional athletes can do that. They can actually affect the world.”
Here’s hoping Mr Beal and you'll certainly need to in the current political climate. Stay woke everyone.