Here’s the part that alot of people don’t see and don’t realize, especially when they have a kind a knee jerk reaction to it when they see it on the news . . . is in that moment for me leading up to that game knowing the climate that our country was in . . . I had teammates in that locker room trying to get ready to play a NFL football game . . . uh, African American teammates, who were concerned for their families . . . literally for their families’ safety.~Seth DeValveSports Spectrum Podcast (August 20, 2019)
Sports can be a tool toward social change, but there are some sports where the players shy away from controversy. After having a conversation with a 2L (second year law student) who interns with both a NHL and a MLB team about this subject, I felt more confusion about this subject than understanding. Was this due to white privilege or the fear of that privilege? Or, could it just be the lack of understanding of social-economic politics? Is it apathy? Have we as a society grown so accustomed to ignoring the needs of others in the pursuit of our own selfish desires?
Who cares right? Or, maybe you’re thinking I’m just trying to cause problems, eh? Well, no, the problems already exist and I’m looking for solutions. There’s a saying–you’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. This discourse is a search for solutions.
I’m mandated to find a solution . . . to help my fellow man and hold those who are wrong accountable even after forgiveness. See, I am a dislocated athlete who is a Christian. I’m not perfect although I tend to hold myself and others to an impossible standard set by Jesus Christ. And being that Christian athlete, I know according to 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and Romans 15:4 that I am to assist my fellow man with his trials while encouraging yet holding him accountable for his failings. That in itself is an impossible task that must be done, and so I begin this discourse, once again, to seek answers and careful thought. . . . How do I as a Christian athlete go about effecting social change?
So to gain understanding, I ask myself if I am allowed to be apathetic or blinded by my own desires as a Christian athlete? The answer is no. Proverbs 6:6 (NIV) says “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Further, the Bible says in Revelations 9:20b (NIV) “that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.”
Okay, those were the easy questions to answer. But what about having privilege or being afraid to say or do something for fear of backlash? God, aka Yaweh or Allah (and I mean that with sincerest respect), gives us influence to improve the lives of others as well as ourselves.
Take a look at the lives of Joseph and Esther, also known as Hadassah, for example. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned and then promoted to the rank of Viceroy–the right hand man of Pharaoh–by the Lord to save the lives or the Egyptians and the Israelites (Jews). Esther, a young Jewish girl, was taken from her home and thrown into a harem only to be promoted to Queen of Persia. As queen, Esther was able to save her people from the jealous and greedy Haman.*
So, as a Christian athlete, I am compelled to follow in the steps of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I am required to seek justice for those who cannot seek it for themselves. The field, the court, the ice, the diamond and the pitch are my stage of influence. I have to answer to God for not doing good . . . for my hesitation to stand for what’s right even if it costs me my reputation. Jesus lost his reputation so that I may live life more abundantly, and I am required to at least try to represent Him to the best of my abilities.
To turn a blind eye to domestic violence, sexual assault, police brutality, homelessness, bullying at all levels, inequality and human trafficking is unacceptable. Jesus would not do that, and I represent Him. Therefore, I guess I have come to the understanding that despite what my other fellow Christian athletes may do, I am going to use my stage of influence to show the world who Jesus is. To paraphrase Cain, I am my brother’s keeper.
Source: Sports Spectrum
*While the Qu’ran doesn’t mention Esther, it does mention Joseph’s (Yusuf) story, and many of Islamic faith do believe in the story of Esther. The story of Esther is found in the Megillah whereas Joseph’s story is found in the Torah for those who practice Judaism.