Pro athletes should stand against injustices

St. Louis Rams Protest Ferguson Verdict With 'Hands Up' Before Sunday Game

College Contributor Network

To stand in America today and proclaim that it's a post-racial society is a boldfaced lie. The recent highly publicized incidents of juries deciding not to indict the officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner should provide enough explanation.

Note that's not even taking into consideration the cop who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a pellet gun, on Nov. 25, 2014, nor does it include the unpublicized occurrences.

Professional sports have served as a societal meeting point, generating dialogue about religion (Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin), gay rights (Jason Collins, Michael Sam), racism (Donald Sterling, Washington Redskins) and domestic abuse (Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson).

It's not surprising that five St. Louis Rams players peacefully protested the Darren Wilson ruling by holding up their hands in pregame introductions. The only surprising thing is that no other professional teams have followed suit.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association calling the Rams players' gesture "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory" is uncalled for. However, it wound up having a positive effect. Those remarks garnered more attention for the Michael Brown protests and gave way to further debates concerning racism. And that's exactly what should happen.

Most of the time sports are an escape from the politics of everyday life. They're lighthearted and wildly popular around the world. Because of the spotlight on sports, when the chance for athletes to express their opinion on a major social justice controversy rises, they have the right to seize the opportunity. Citizens can protest on the streets so why can't athletes protest on the fields?

As Tim Baffoe's headline at The Cauldron read, "No, You May Not Silence Athletes On Social Issues." Sporting events captivate an incredible number of viewers. So long as social injustices exist, players should be using their platform to create constructive public dialogue.

Social media is a great start, but when organizing a public display for national TV is a possibility, one Tweet seems futile.

I understand that it's probably easier said than done, and that I've never experienced the pressures that a pro athlete faces. At the same time, I know everyone has their own methods of self expression.

For me, it's the words -- these words -- I type. For Macklemore, it's his lyrics -- "White privilege, white guilt, at the same damn time." For professional athletes, it's the stadiums.

One can only hope that players don't just stick to sports, that they'll help society progress and grow to be better.

Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji​​
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