From an NBA at the forefront of the anti-racism movement, to the MLB who took nine days to decide, via the NFL, reactive but still haunted by the case Colin Kaepernick, the bodies of American sports (leagues, franchises, employees) reacted differently to the death of George Floyd.
From NBA floors to cobblestones: already scolded from waiting until late July to resume competition due to the coronavirus epidemic, the North American basketball community was shaken by the shock wave associated with George Floyd's death. While in France it remains rare among athletes (although someone like Mathieu Bastareaud is starting to emerge), many stars in the league are used to express themselves in these types of cases. When Eric Garner passed away in 2014 – an African American killed by a New York cop – you could already see LeBron James or Kobe Bryant wearing black T-shirts flowing to the phrase "I can not breathe" ("I can not breathe"). The same as George Floyd said, his neck shattered on the sidewalk to Minneapolis, and that resonates today in the mouths and posts of players, executives and other legends about the game on social networks.
Basketball on the street
This time, rumors took over Twitter and Instagram. All over the country, many basketball players were confused with the protesters. In the streets of Oakland, triple NBA champions Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors) sang the name George Floyd. Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics) drove a fifteen hour drive to Atlanta, the historic city of racial segregation, to be part of the procession. By his side: Malcolm Brogdon or Justin Anderson, who wears the Indiana and Brooklyn tunic.
Stephen Curry. Photo Ezra Shaw. AFP
Actions forwarded and supported in the NBA microcosm. "The biggest impact Jaylen will have, no matter how strong he is in basketball, will not be on a basketball court.", Celtics coach Brad Stevens swears about Jaylen Brown. Among the San Antonio Spurs, the very famous and respected coach Gregg Popovich, argues opponent of Donald Trump, once again attacked the president, not hesitating to call him"Disturbed idiot". If we put the New York Knicks aside, whose owner James Dolan – Trump's big supporter – felt they weren't "No one better qualified than anyone to give (their) opinion on social issues", the franchisees took office as soon as the affair broke out.
Everything under the watchful eye of the NBA, which did not fail to respond via a note from the manager, Adam Silver, to the league's staff. Committed and unifying, it concludes by inviting the recipients "to participate in the "Dream-colored virtual social conversation", or a group of internal staff resources dedicated to the African American community and its problems.
Among the major federations that make up the US sports landscape, the NBA is considered to be the most progressive and forward in the fight against racial justice. From Martin Luther King Day, raised as a flagship day in the regular season, to the creation of the "NBA Voices" platform, which is meant to promote equality and diversity, lacks actions to combat all forms of discrimination. Ditto when it comes to crackdown: in 2014, Adam Silver banished owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments, forcing him to give up the Los Angeles Clippers franchise. It is revealing to see Michael Jordan – previously criticized for his lack of commitment – donate $ 100 million (over ten years) to anti-racist organizations today. Above all, with 78% of players of color in basketball, 69% in American football, 17% in football respectively (soccer), 8.5% in baseball and 0.5% in ice hockey, not surprising to see the NBA at the forefront of the movement.
NFL and Kaepernick Spectrum
More surprising: if you look closely at this little reaction game, the "Grand League" was overtaken by the NFL (American football), usually not very quick to comment on this kind of story. Especially since his disastrous handling of the Colin Kaepernick case, this ex-San Francisco 49ers player who put a knee to the ground during the US anthem in front of a 2016 rally in protest of racist police violence. Offended by Trump, exterminated by the league, radio silence from franchisees who will no longer take him back … four years later, his stains pave the new image the NFL wants to give itself. Recently, for example, the league has implemented a quota policy: "Rooney Rule". Franchises must now try on two candidates (one originally) from visible minorities each time a coaching position becomes available, to give them access to leadership positions.
But in his press release, Roger Goodell, the NFL boss, acknowledges that: there is still a lot to do "Both at country level and league ", where only three coaches are from minorities (out of 32 teams). That's even less than half the price in 2010, when six African Americans headed a franchise (not to mention two black acting coaches). Especially since the willingly peaceful message, the harmony is cracking lower: several dubious opinions roughly highlight the backlash in the league when it comes to combating discrimination. The most notable example is the release of Vic Fangio, coach of the Denver Broncos, June 2: “I don't see racism in the NFL at all. I don't see discrimination. We live in a sovereign atmosphere ", he said during a video conference. Before you add: "If the company reflected what an NFL team is, that would be great."
Roger Goodell. Photo Maddie Meyer. AFP
Immediate screams among the players in the league, forcing the coach to return to his words the following day. "After thinking about my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize that what I said about racism and discrimination in the NFL wasn't right, sorry Fangio on the club's Twitter account. "Although I have never personally experienced these horrible things firsthand, during my thirty-three years in the NFL, I understand that many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives." Fangio points to the root of the problem in a sentence. He relates his experience as a white leader, without trying to understand the mechanisms behind the persistent racial inequalities in the league. A few days later, New Orleans Saints star recognized Drew Brees "Being next to the plate", after declaring that he would not be "Do not agree with anyone who does not respect the flag of the United States or our country." Controversies that betray the delays in American football on the field.
Traditions and contradictions
Last appeared on Wednesday morning (nine days after George Floyd's death), MLB (baseball) has angered several players and fans, who criticize the lack of reaction from a league that claims to be the avant-garde of these matches while constantly standing behind the legacy left by Jackie Robinson, the first black player, in 1947, who joined the league as he is still one of the most important names for his record. Except that since the 1980s the proportion of black players has gone from 19% to 8% in recent seasons. Following Kaepernik's move in 2016, only one player (Oakland Athletics rookie Bruce Maxwell) followed to boycott the anthem. By the way, the concern is about creating controversy in a sport full of unspoken traditions and rules over any other form of disputing inclinations. Some players like Dexter Fowler (St. Louis Cardinals) were less concerned about the timing of the announcement than with the singularity of the announcement itself.
cited by the New York Times, Nathan Kalman-Lamb, a professor at Duke University and a specialist in issues that mix sports, social and racial inequalities, points out the particularly hollow side of the positions taken by the NFL and MLB: "If the NFL and MLB had come forward and said they were going to make significant and decisive changes to support the movement against police violence and crimes against people of color in the community, it would have been far more powerful in my eyes." Some observers did not fail to emphasize the forgetfulness of the expression "Police violence" and "Black Life matters" in MLB's press release. In the NFL, the content of Roger Goodell's message, which did not refer to racism or police violence, was criticized by several footballers. Several of them, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes, winner of the recent SuperBowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, released a video on Thursday demanding that the court condemn the racist violence and support the protests. "How many times do we have to ask you to listen to your players?Ask Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs). "What should be?Continuing DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals). And Roger Goodell apologizing the next day for not listening to the players earlier.
The same complaint applies to the NHL, where nine out of ten hockey players are white. As the specialist blog RMNB notes, only 13 teams out of 31 raise the issue of racism in their press release, eight mention George Floyd and two writers "Black Life matters". Laconique, the Football Association (MLS), for its part, satisfied itself with a four-word statement: "United against racism". Just as for the NFL, some have failed to emphasize the paradox of such a message, while the same body requires national teams to remain standing under the anthem, after footballer Megan Rapinoe in turn imitated Kaepernick before a meeting.
The ultimate illustration of these contradictions prevailing in American sports organizations: the release at the beginning of the week by hammer thrower Gwen Berry, more than rebounded against the USOPC (United States Olympic Committee). Reason for anger: a letter from Sarah Hirshland, Director General of the USOPC, to American athletes to inform them of "His sense of hopelessness" facing the tragic scene. In addition to condemning racial inequalities in the country, Sarah Hirshland points out "Apathy and indifference are not solutions".
(190521) – NANJING, MAY 21, 2019 () – Gwen Berry of the United States watches during Women's Hammer Throw Final at Nanjing IAAF World Challenge Meeting of 2019 in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, May 21, 2019 . (/ Wang Lili) |
Gwen Berry. Photo Wang Lili. Picture Alliance. Photographing
Something to stomach ulcers by Gwen Berry. During a medal ceremony at the Pan American Games in Lima in August 2019, she was sanctioned by the same USOPC for raising fists in protest against racial injustice. Direct consequence of his action: a 12-month probation with a risk of more serious sanction in the event of recidivism. In the longer term, an estimated $ 50,000 revenue loss from sponsors. "I want a letter of apology … sent … just like the ones you and the International Olympic Committee sent me after you introduced a case period. Stop playing with me", the athlete said on Twitter. On the other hand, the interview by Sport Illustrated, The important thing is elsewhere for her: "When I took a stand, it was at a time when things were happening, but nothing was done. Now I feel that everyone feels what I felt."