Sports and Social Progress
Before Jackie Robinson was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, there was a commonly accepted belief that African American athletes did not have the necessary reﬂ exes or intelligence required for most professional athletic endeavors.
Then, when Jackie went on to the playing ﬁeld, those individuals who had not wanted him to have the opportunity to play, wanted to murder him. For the ﬁrst time in baseball history, they had to conﬁscate pistols and riﬂes from the fans, who were attending the games. The people who “knew” that he did not have the ability to play major league baseball, still wanted to kill him.
From the years 1947 to 1952, the Dodgers had to provide 24 hours security for Rachel and Jackie Robinson. When he traveled to cities like Cincinnati or St. Louis, he could not stay with the team, because the hotels were segregated. However, where they did stay was a closely guarded secret, which was necessary for their safety.
Fast forward to the present time, African-Americans, Asians, Europeans, and Latinos are happily competing in most amateur and professional sports. A signiﬁcant change in collegiate athletics occurred in 1964, when the USC football team traveled to Alabama, and shocked the world by defeating Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide.
The results of that victory led to major universities recruiting African American athletes. Eventually, this is led to the hiring of athletic directors, head coaches and assistant’s, referees, and other supporting staff. The desire to win has helped to begin the leveling of the playing ﬁeld.
Some great athletes like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson have used their celebrity to create additional opportunities for many minorities. These opportunities had not been previously available to them.
Joining that group is Colin Kaepernick, he received both support and criticism for leading the protests against the wanton killing of African Americans by various police ofﬁcers. He did this by kneeling at NFL games when the National Anthem was being played. He received both some approval and support for doing so.
His kneeling has created a great deal of controversy, and it appears that the NFL owners may have blackballed him. At this point, he does not have a contract, and there are reports that he ﬁ led a lawsuit against the NFL owners for collusion. However, it is not all bad news for him, Nike has just announced a major endorsement deal for him.
If you believe that what these athletes are doing is a good thing, then I urge you to support them in any way that you can. This might mean calling or writing to the various league ofﬁces, boycotting games and sponsors, and working with concerned politicians. I am not opposed to kneeling, but I think that it is now possibly more controversial than it is worth.
Cesar Chavez and Dr. King encouraged us to Boycott activities and organizations that use discriminatory practices. Their tasks were not easy, but in the end they prevailed. So, let us be up and doing, in our efforts to make better lives for ourselves, and for those who come after us..
[Email: Jorrogers@aol. com]