January 17, 2022
680 The Fan, ATLANTA – Every third Monday in January, we celebrate the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who paid the ultimate price for standing up for what was right. Many enjoy the day off, catch up on historical vignettes on their local or national news programs, or find something that comes across their phone as a reminder of a significant man on a significant day.
Sometimes today, sports, politics, and social issues intersect, creating a sucking of the teeth or rolling of the eyes and begging the question, “Should sports just be sports?”
Time heals many things, but the present is the time to begin dressing and addressing the wounds of the past that make for a better future for all of us. Dr. King believed that the intersection of life and sports was significant enough to inspire world changers regarded as pot-stirrers of their time to make fantastic changes in the world.
We all need to use a big spoon and continue to stir the pot today.
Jackie Robinson was as honorable 75 years ago as his legacy is today, and Dr. King thought it important enough in the midst of social upheaval to recognize the impact of Robinson’s importance to both baseball and the world.
Muhammed Ali was as talented with his thoughts and philosophical views as he was with his hands and feet, and was supported and encouraged by Dr. King to use his visibility and platform to provoke thought and change.
We don’t need to wait 75 years to dream of better days in sports like our ancestors did. We need to open our eyes and dream that sports can make a difference in what we see right now, which can improve the world and sports tomorrow.
Our passions do not have to be the same in order for us to realize that we can dream about sports without them being a fantasy.
We could dream that one day there will be more African-American coaches in the NFL based on their merit, positioning people and giving them the same opportunities their counterparts have had over the years.
We can dream that there’ll be more African-American coaches in college football. There are many who give much to the game, deserving an opportunity to not hit a ceiling when their playing days are over. If we can watch and root for men to play a game, we can also watch and root for them to coach.
We can dream that it’s okay for someone to have a different political view without having to have them canceled or stripped of their sponsors and livelihood like Muhammed Ali. We are supposed to celebrate differences in this country, and those differences are in locker rooms, college programs, and pro franchises.
The beauty of sports is that they are inclusive. They reflect what society could possibly be; rules everyone has to follow, people who don’t know one another putting differences aside to achieve a common goal, working hard, giving your best, and most importantly, fairness.
Dr. King said he would like to be remembered as a “drum major for peace.” Let’s continue to bang the drum of righteousness and help to turn his dream into results while dreaming with our eyes open.