Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Athlete protests don't stop because the killings don't

Dolphins hold town hall

Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and linebacker Jelani Jenkins say they've received death threats through social media following their national anthem protest, but remain committed to push for better race relations, which is why they helped organize a town hall with police and youth leaders. "It's great a lot of people in our community, including our law enforcement, have the mindset of, 'Yes, there is something wrong,' " Thomas said Wednesday. "Something needs to change, and we're just looking for solutions and working together to find them." Thomas, Jenkins, running back Arian Foster and receiver Kenny Stills knelt together during the anthem at Miami's opener to protest social inequality. Reaction to the gesture by the four black players was sometimes ugly. The town hall took place in the team's meeting room. Several dozen attended, including high school coaches and representatives from at least three local law-enforcement agencies. "We had a lot of healthy conversation," Jenkins said. "A lot of people understand we can do things better as a community." Thomas and Jenkins noted that the meeting took place as protesters and police clashed in Charlotte, N.C., the latest city to erupt in violence over the death of a black man by police. "People aren't crying wolf — this is our reality," Thomas said. "People feel their lives are worth less than those who aren't of color."

— Associated Press

Editor's note: This column was written before the events in Charlotte, N.C.

An open-minded, liberal-leaning friend said this to me the other day as we discussed athlete activism and protests involving the national anthem:

"I get the cause, for sure. But hasn't the point been made? Why keep making it over and over?"

Hers was a rhetorical question, but the answer keeps coming. Different cities. Different victims. Same story. Unarmed black men being needlessly shot and killed by police.

The answer is that it hasn't stopped — Tulsa is just the latest example.

The answer is that, sometimes, to be heard, you have to shout. Sometimes, to be heard, you have to repeat yourself.

The irony is that the people who think these anthem protests should have run their course by now and the people outraged into action sometimes use the same words to express those feelings:

Enough is enough.

The difference is, one side says it as an exasperated plea that the sideline kneeling and raised fists during The Star-Spangled Banner should stop - sometimes mistaking it as un-American behavior when what it is is a call for a better America.

The other side says those three words as a frustrated demand that the unjustified killings stop first.

Tulsa is the latest seat of this national outrage that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and more recently to the Colin Kaepernick-inspired show of anger and solidarity by athletes. Does anyone believe Tulsa will be the last? What city will be the next to remind us that racial profiling and prejudice are alive and well in America in 2016?

It is fitting in a way that Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback, who is of mixed race, began this athlete movement, because of course this should not be just a black cause; it should be an American cause. Shouldn't all of us be indignant over unarmed people being killed where race playing a role seems undeniable? That includes police themselves, that vast majority of whom are good and fair — but all of them put in a terrible spot because of the actions of a relative few.

My friend said of the protests, "Hasn't the point been made? Why keep making it over and over?"

It is because, all across the country, Tulsa seems to keep happening, over and over and over.

— Miami Herald (TNS)

Comments
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

The Bucs' 2018 schedule won't be officially released until 8 p.m. with the rest of the league, but the Times has obtained a copy of the schedule, which shows a challenging start for Tampa Bay.The Bucs open with three division champions back-to-back &...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

For the first time since its season commenced, the USF baseball team enters a weekend as the Bulls' feature sports attraction.Basketball ended last month, and spring football ended last Saturday, meaning would-be baseball fans no longer have reason t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured his ankle in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the upcoming season in question.General manager Jason Licht said that Beckwith had surgery Tuesday to repair his injure...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Plant alumnus Rex Culpepper doing well in second chemo round at Syracuse

Plant alumnus Rex Culpepper doing well in second chemo round at Syracuse

Former Plant High quarterback Rex Culpepper recently started his second round of chemotherapy but is doing well and should return to football eventually, his college coach said Thursday morning."He's doing really good," Syracuse coach Dino Babers sai...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

ST. PETERSBURG — An old friend is back in the lineup.The Kiwanis of Gulf Beaches Miracle League, which champions baseball for the physically and mentally challenged, returned with a flourish Saturday morning. We're better for it."This...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Nikita Kucherov scores two goals and delivers some big hits as the Lightning beats the Devils, 3-1, in a physical Game 4 that pushes Tampa Bay to within one win of clinching the series.Meanwhile, the Rays beat the Rangers to as Jake Faria pitche...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Meet the state’s top pole vaulter: River Ridge’s Stone Baker

Meet the state’s top pole vaulter: River Ridge’s Stone Baker

NEW PORT RICHEY — Long before he became the best pole vaulter in the state, Stone Baker was 12 years old and liked to play football.He didn't know a vaulting pole from a tennis racket.Then one day his friend, Evan Bales, asked him to come over ...
Updated: 6 hours ago