By Ken Reed
Most coaches have a leadership gene, no matter what level they coach at. It’s part of their makeup.
Following the despicable, appalling, unfathomable (it’s hard to pick the most appropriate word) death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop, coaches across the country have been stepping up and showing leadership in addressing the social justice problems we have in this country.
Scroll through the tweets at #CoachesStandForJustice and you will be heartened by the heartfelt and passionate statements and pleas for change from coaches across America, from youth leagues to the pro ranks.
Others have written longer pieces, like Phoenix Suns’ head coach Monty Williams.
“It IS time to raze the institutional foundations of racism and segregation within politics, law enforcement and society at large,” wrote Williams in an open letter. “It must happen NOW. Borrowing from C.S. Lewis, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
We have no choice. We must start where we are today — as sad and upsetting as this current situation is — and work towards an ending that fulfills the promise of America, as stated in the Pledge of Allegiance: “… with liberty and justice for all.”
Indiana football coach Tom Allen says our words, and more importantly, our actions must be powered by love.
“My heart is broken by what is going on in our country,” tweeted Allen. “Racial injustice is wrong and it MUST be addressed!! I Believe we are to LOVE EACH OTHER! No matter one’s skin color. Love is a choice. Our prayers are with George Floyd’s family. John 15:12. #LEO.”
#LEO stands for Love Each Other.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes white people have to do more if we’re ever going to see significant change in this country.
“[Even] though I’ve tried, I haven’t done enough and I don’t think any of us have done enough,” said Kerr. “When I say us, I mean white people. We haven’t done enough. It’s just the truth.
If we had, this sort of thing wouldn’t be happening.”
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich agrees with Kerr.
“The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes,” said Popovich in an interview with journalist Dave Zirin.
“That’s why these protests have been so explosive. … And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it.”
Massive protests are needed as a spur to change (like the 1963 March on Washington protest that drew 250,000 people and which gave us Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech), but, as Williams says, protests need to be done in a none violent way.
“To those who are using the façade of a protest or march by choosing to destroy and tear down, I challenge you to be better,” wrote Williams. “As I tell my players, I’m not calling you out, I’m calling you up. Destruction of property and life is NOT the answer.”
Coaches have made some great points the last couple days, but I think Kerr and Popovich really hit the nail on the head. White people simply have to do more in this fight for social justice.
“I guess I’m saying it’s not enough to sign a petition, or send a tweet or make a statement,” Kerr said of himself and other white people.
“We have to actually do something. There’s got to be a call to action, and then we need a list of things to check off, and we need to do them collectively and demand that those things be done. It’s embarrassing and humiliating that we’re still in this place, and it’s tough to reconcile all this stuff.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
- "How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report