Monday, November 4, 2013

Again and Again, Sports Broadens Boundaries for Race, Sex and Relationships

Openly gay, LA Galaxy midfielder-Robbie Rogers
It's been said over and over for many years, "sports is the great equalizer."  It's also been said over and over for many years now, "sports are a microcosm of society."

It's well documented how much sports have affected society and helped it to move along at a greater speed.  Whether it was Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, the starting five for Texas Western, Billie Jean King, Cathy Freeman or Oscar Pistorius, sports has mostly found a way over the past century to demonstrate that performance outweighs prejudice.

When it has come to issues common to all of society, sports has shown itself to typically land on the side of justice.  There are many, many issues left to overcome, but sports has proven to move more quickly than other aspects of society to make change when change is necessary.

Most recently, issues coming to the forefront in sports include bullying, gay acceptance and Native American rights.

For many contemporary years, the rights of Native Americans have been completely ignored or not recognized at all.  It's ironic that Daniel Snyder has become the megaphone on Native American issues.

Snyder probably never envisioned it and nobody else could have predicted it either.  He probably thought he was just buying a team and making an investment.  It has turned out to be much bigger than just 'business.'  Now, what Snyder has to say about the rights of Native Americans has more influence than any other person since maybe Geronimo or Crazy Horse.

As so many politically correct causes have come to be recognized, changing the nickname of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins, has gathered enough steam that he has been forced to address the issue. Snyder has tried to make the issue a 'branding' issue and has tried to say the Redskins name is one of pride.  He keeps creeping closer and closer to figuring out that the name has outlived its usefulness as a pro sports franchise nickname, but hasn't quite made it there, yet.

This past week, Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, brought to light the societal problem of bullying.  People and sports fans sympathize with his plight.

This is another politically correct, controversial topic that many people would like to go away because they feel society is going too far to the side of those being bullied and the country is somehow being weakened.

Martin probably never thought he'd be a spokesperson for those who are bullied, but this may end up being his biggest contribution to society.  He has had courage to say 'enough is enough.'  And, now, the issue is getting massive more amounts of attention.

Then, there is Robbie Rogers, the LA Galaxy midfielder, who played the entire first half and part of the second half in the MLS playoffs on Sunday versus Real Salt Lake in the first home game of the home and home Western Conference semifinals.  Most of the country probably thinks that Jason Collins, a former NBA player, is the first homosexual man to come out while playing professionally.  But, Collins has not played since his admission to the public after last season concluded.

Meanwhile, Rogers carries on and carries the flag for all male gays in team sports who want to play around the world as openly gay and haven't yet.

Interestingly, President Obama has commented or made political moves recently with regard to all of these issues.  These are the issues of our times.  The U.S. continues to lead the world by examining itself and trying to improve by correcting wrongs of the past or wrongs in behavior.

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