By Brandon Brown
ESN Director of Content

It has become frustrating over the past couple of months having to listen to athletes protest. They have become walking billboards for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the leagues that they play for have also followed in that same path. MLS is taking a knee before every kickoff, the WNBA is demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and the NBA even refused to play their playoff games due to everything going on in the United States. When will it end? When can we just go back to watching sports and forgetting about the outside world for awhile. Why can’t I just enjoy my sports without politics being thrown in my face by these athletes. I just want it to go away.

Then shut up, and listen to them.

For far too long we have put the voices of our athletes on the back burner. Belittling their thoughts because they aren’t educated enough on topics to form their own opinions. But, your neighbor down the street, who has the same views as you, makes a lot of good points. You refuse to listen to an athlete because, “How oppressed can they be.” You made it out of your struggle, so that means anyone can and there is no oppression in this country.

What people with this mentality refuse to acknowledge is that, most of those athletes would still be in terrible situations if they couldn’t dribble a ball or hit one out of the park. They are the lucky few who made it because they had a God given talent and worked every night and day to achieve their goals. The sad part is, for every one who makes it out, hundreds are left behind because they couldn’t do what that one could. They are left out of sight and out of mind to you. That’s why these athletes speak. For the hundreds that didn’t make it and are still grinding every single day to make it in a country that seems to not even want them here. Athletes have been given a platform and instead of wasting it, they use it to shed light on how their fellow brothers and sisters are being treated in this country.

And before you run off thinking that this is a new age thing that only is happening because this generation is “soft”, remember the ones that came before who you tried to silence. Ali, Bill Russell, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson all spoke to the problems that our modern day athlete is still preaching. Activism and sports go hand in hand, whether you like it or not. Saying that someone should stick to sports and not speak on what is happening in this country just shows how badly you want to silence their voices.

The worst part is, they aren’t asking for much. Just some damn equality for once in this country. To be treated with the same respect that every other person is treated with. But, I don’t understand why that scares so many of you. They scream ‘Black Lives Matter’ and you become so threatened by that statement that you just have to scream back ‘All Lives Matter’. Yet, they are the snowflakes. I’m sure if a loved one was dying of lung cancer and you wanted to raise awareness of that terrible disease, you wouldn’t be too happy if I ran into the room and said, “Well all cancers matter”. I would look like a tool, and I would be missing the point completely. It’s not that your life doesn’t matter, it’s that someone else’s life has been devalued and we are tying to bring attention to that. So, if you tell me “All Lives Matter”, that should mean your’e in the same fight for equality that I am. Or, is it just that you feel threatened that their lives should be equal to yours?

The modern athlete has become a voice for the voiceless. They have championed the underdogs and been seen as heroes. They have helped build schools, donated millions to feed the hungry and have taken time out of their lives to listen to others. They go outside of their ‘work’ hours in order to stay connected with their communities and build them up. Yet, you want them to stay silent on the actions that are hurting the people. You have tried to oppress their thoughts so much, that they have had enough. They walked out. You refused to listen, so they took your precious sports away. But, no matter how mad you got at these ‘prima donna’ athletes, you were forced to see their frustrations. They made you talk about what they were standing for, they controlled the audience by taking away the performance.

If you would have just listened, this could have all been avoided. If you had opened up your heart to struggles that may not affect you, then this would never have happened. If you stopped viewing athletes as paid performers who’s sole purpose on this planet is your entertainment, then this would have never happened. For years they have been trying to get through to you, to no avail. For some reason, their voices don’t matter.

No, not all athletes came from single mother house holds and lived in the projects. Not all athletes have been pulled over by the cops once in their lives for simply having the wrong skin color. But, far too many have. They lived it while you have only heard about it. You know who I like to listen to when it comes to teachings, someone who actually went through it. First hand experience. So when someone like LeBron James says there is a systematic problem in this country, you bet your ass I’m going to listen. Or would you rather me listen to the life long politician who has never stepped over the wrong side of the tracks except for a photo op?

Equality shouldn’t be a political issue.

Now I know that many of you reading this do in fact support the athletes who are standing up to social injustice, I also know that many of you will continue to think the same way despite reading my little rant. But I appreciate you reading it anyways. I too, am tired of how this country has treated people of color for far too long. I have seen what prejudice looks like first hand and believe me, it is real. Just because you have never seen it or you have ‘Friends of Color’ doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. All these athletes want is for you to listen. They don’t want you to drop everything and change all of your views to conform to theirs. They just want their fellow Americans to listen.

Why listen to me? I’m just a product of a biracial family. In the right light, it would even be hard to tell I have any color in me. I mean, I even have a red beard and freckles for God’s sake. I went to a predominately white high school and then decided to attend college at, once again, a predominately white school. So I must have never been through what these athletes speak of. Well maybe it was never fitting in at school because, “I acted black.” Or being called a ‘Nigger’ at a Walmart in North Dakota when I was just trying to buy some groceries. In the grand scheme of things, those are microscopic compared to what others go through every day. And if extra ‘light skinned’ Brandon can go through it, imagine what others have seen and been through. But, I’m just biased.

By Brandon Brown

Content Director for Eli Sports Network

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