This is a good time to explain the concept of The African-American Athlete page and blog. Firstly, the name honors the contributions of African-American Athletes to the world of sports.
So many men and women of all races made great sacrifices to pave the way for the black athletes we celebrate today. There is absolutely nothing racist about honoring that legacy.
This page is open to any, and everyone, of all ethnicities. All view points are welcomed, and encouraged.
The African-American Athlete is also a venue to address issues of the black community. This may include topics ranging from politics, to education, to crime and gun violence. Now, you may be wondering how those subjects possibly link to sports.
This is where I ask you to look deeper. If a kid can’t safely walk from his home to football practice because of gang violence, or being stopped and harassed by the police, it impacts his ability to play football. It is part of what so many African-Americans have had to overcome on their road to greatness, and simply living day to day.
I believe there is a definite link between society and sport. So, on this page you will read about a litany of issues that reflect the world we live in. What that means is not every post will reflect an issue of race, even when you think it does.
For example, I wrote a piece regarding the Mike Vick’s signing by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the protest by thousands of fans against his signing. An online petition garnered more than 15,000 signatures so far.
Of course, Vick spent time in prison for his role in dog fighting. He has served his time. I compared fan reaction to Vick, and their reaction to Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben faced rape allegations from a woman in Nevada, which were eventually settled out of court. Roethlisberger, who has led the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowl titles, did not receive much backlash.
Many of you immediately drew racial lines, even though neither player’s race was mentioned in the story. The decision to compare the treatement of Vick and Roethlisberger is obvious, being they play the same position, and are high profile players.
But for me, it was the preferential treatment of a star, as oppose to someone who Steelers’ fans have no relationship with, Vick. The piece shows fickle fans can be. Big Ben is their guy, their hero. But if he goes down _ which no one wants _ and Vick steps in and plays well, I get the feeling that all will be forgiven. His past won’t mean so much anymore. That is the nature of sports.
However, many who read the piece did make it an issue of race, which is never a bad thing. Our society can never have enough conversations about each other’s communities (although I do wish we could do it more respectfully). The more we learn about each other, the better we will become as a community.
Hopefully, some of you will find this space as a place to have honest, respectful conversations about the world community in which we live.