There are many American athletes who have made a groundbreaking achievement in sports, and Kelsie Whitmore’s name should be added to the list. As a left fielder and pitcher of the Staten Island Ferryhawks in the Independent Atlantic League, she is the only woman on the roster and the first female to play in a league partnered with Major League Baseball since 1994. Although the Independent Atlantic League doesn’t get the same attention compared to other minor leagues, Whitmore has made it clear that she is here to play ball.
It wasn’t long in the season before Whitmore would get her chances with the Ferryhawks, as she made her first appearance as a pinch-runner in the Ferryhawks’ opening game. Nine days later, she made her first start as a pitcher. However, this is nothing new for Whitmore. Before going professional, she was the only woman on her high school baseball team all the out west in sunny Temecula, California.
Last Friday my program in the New York Times Sports Writing course got the chance to speak to her before the Ferryhawks' matchup against the Charleston Dirty Birds, so I was able to get a first hand perspective on her journey toward becoming the only woman in a leagued with the MLB.
When I asked her about what’s different compared to high school, she replied, “I’d say the competition is a lot higher. There’s guys who are former major leaguers. Some played in minor affiliate ball so being against and with guys at that level is definitely what makes a difference out of it.”
Even with the increased level of competition, Whitmore is not one to shy away from intimidation.
As for her on-field performance, Whitmore’s hitting has remained a work in progress, given she has yet to get a hit in 22 plate appearances. She has made some strides in her pitching however as she managed to retire a former MLB player in a relief appearance.
As a team the Ferryhawks have only won 22 games so it’s easy for fans to suggest that Whitmore was signed in an effort to gain popularity, but general manager Gary Perone denied these claims. He stated that Whitmore was signed because of her skills on the diamond rather than trying to sell more tickets. While this might be true, Whitmore has been an inspiration to others. Perone noted that he sees a ton of young girls who look up to her when they come to the ballpark. In a city that fields plenty of stars playing for the Yankees and Mets, it’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for Whitmore to be recognized as a role model by many young fans.
Over the last few months, Whitmore’s support has only continued to grow. Although she noted the atmosphere is different compared to California, she described the fans as “very supportive and great to be around.” For someone like Whitmore to receive more attention compared to other players in the Independent Atlantic League, she conducts herself in a very professional manner which isn’t always seen from all athletes.
In a response to a question regarding how her journey might be different compared to others, she thinks that “Part of it is really just not giving up. A lot of people think it’s hard, and they go in an easier route…I’ve been through those moments and you need to fight your mind, and I feel it’s not stopping.”
She additionally credited certain people, such as her father for building a foundation where she can make the necessary steps toward achieving her dreams. Perone said she will have a career in some way and after speaking to her, it's more than likely Whitmore will have tremendous success.
After an underwhelming 2021 season, it was believed that the Yankees' window to contend for a championship was starting to close. These opinions only became stronger as the Yankees had a quiet offseason where they made a lot of under the radar moves rather than going on their typical spending spree in free agency. Since the season started however, the Yankees have been dominating every opponent in their way. They are currently riding a 47-16 record which is not only best in the American League, but in all of baseball. Here are all the reasons for their spectacular start.
1. A More Balanced Lineup
The heart of the Yankees' lineup, without question, centers around Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When healthy, they are one of baseball's more feared hitting duos, which is something pitchers dealt with last year. As of now, they have picked up right where they left off. Stanton has hit 13 home runs while Judge has taken his game to another level, clobbering an absurd 25 home runs. They are both on pace to hit over 30 home runs, although Judge might hit 66 at this rate. Let's not forget that he also leads the team in almost every other hitting category.
The big difference for Judge and Stanton this year, is that they have much more help at the plate. Anthony Rizzo has had a lower batting average than in years past, but he's well on pace to eclipse his home run and RBI total from last year. Meanwhile, Gleyber Torres only needed 58 games to match his home run total from the last two years combined. Additionally, the Yankees have a well rounded group of contact hitters led by DJ Lemahieu, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Jose Trevino. Out of all their hitters, Trevino has been the biggest surprise, hitting .300 while delivering two walk-offs this season.
2. Better Pitching and a Fundamentally Sound Defense
Last year, the Yankees' pitching staff had some stretches where they looked unhittable while other times, they needed 25 pitches just to get out of an inning. This year, they've been far more consistent. All of their starting pitchers have a winning record with the highest ERA being Gerrit Cole's 3.33. Despite this, Cole overcame a shaky start to the season and has looked like the $324 million ace the Yankees payed him to be, leading the team in strikeouts to go along with a 6-1 record. Nestor Cortes has been baseball's biggest breakout star as of now. His 5-2 record, 1.96 era, and 71 strikeouts make him all but a lock to start for the A.L. in the all star game. The rest of the rotation consists of a fully healthy Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon who have all contributed toward the Yankees having the lowest era in the majors at 2.81.
Defensively, the Yankees have been much more respectable in the field compared to last season. This is because Aaron Boone has been playing guys where they are comfortable at, whether it's Gleyber Torres returning to second base or Giancarlo Stanton playing in the outfield more often. For Stanton to excel in the field, Aaron Judge has made the transition to center field where he's shown that he can cover ground as well as any other center fielder. Behind the plate, Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino have proved to be defensive upgrades, as Yankee pitchers no longer have to worry about their pitches going to the backstop. These adjustments are a big reason why the Yankees are in the top three for runs saved defensively. Without the improvement of their defense the Yankees would not have baseball's best record by such a wide margin.
3. Long Term Outlook
There's no reason to think that the Yankees can't continue their dominant stretch. Aaron Boone has been pressing all the right buttons and this team not only jells together, but they look like they're having fun which wasn't usually the case last year. Aaron Judge is well on pace to finally win his first career A.L. MVP, they're going to have a bunch of starters for the all-star game, and at this rate they can clinch home field for the entire postseason. As for their current record, (47-16) the only time they've had a better start was in 1998 where they won 114 games en route to a World Series championship. And while there's still a lot of baseball to be played, fans have every right to be extremely optimistic about this team.
After more than two months of work stoppage, a brief strike, major offseason moves, and new rule changes, today marks Opening Day for baseball in 2022. Among the notable changes this offseason was the implementation of a new playoff format. For the first time in a full season, there will be six playoff teams in each conference with the two best teams having first round byes while the other four teams will compete in a best of three wild card series. With these additions likely to have a significant impact on this season, here are my predictions.
#3 Toronto Blue Jays over #6. Boston Red Sox
#4 New York Yankees over #5 Tampa Bay Rays
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 2. Houston Astros
1. Chicago White Sox over 4. New York Yankees
3. Toronto Blue Jays over 1. Chicago White Sox
#3 Atlanta Braves over #6 San Fransisco Giants
#4 New York Mets over #4 St. Louis Cardinals
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 New York Mets
#2 Milwaukee Brewers over #3 Atlanta Braves
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #2 Milwaukee Brewers
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #3 Toronto Blue Jays
The beginning of a new year marks an opportunity for everyone to set new goals for themselves. That's why I'm going to propose some theoretical new year's resolutions to notable sports figures who could use them in 2022.
1. Rob Manfred - Get Your Act Together
Even before this year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was competing with Roger Goodell with the title of "most hated commissioner in all of sports". He has been heavily disliked by both players and fans for actions such as his response to the Houston Astros' cheating scandal. However Manfred reached a new low this year, which was partly due to the two different types of baseballs that were used. One of the baseballs was more pitcher friendly, while another helped hitters be more productive at the plate. Keep in mind that this is ironic considering Manfred's crackdown on foreign substances back in June. As of now, the MLB is on locking out the players while they try to negotiate a new league agreement. While Manfred obviously isn't a player or owner, he deserves a ton of blame for the league's failure with the negotiations.
2. Ben Simmons - Change Your Mindset
Since he passed up a dunk late in the fourth quarter of last year's playoffs, Ben Simmons has yet to step on the court this season. He didn't engage with team until October and when he did, Simmons got kicked out of practice for showing a lack of engagement and was later suspended for the season opener. Simmons has also refused counseling from the 76ers to help him get back on the court. To top it off, Simmons has requested a trade but isn't doing any favors to help his cause. While he can create for scoring opportunities for others and defend the opponent's best player, Simmons lacks a solid jump shot and has a massive contract. If Simmons wants a fresh start, he needs to change his entire approach because as of now, he's a bonafide diva.
3. Zion Williamson - Get In Shape
Zion Williamson has seemed to enjoy the food in New Orleans a little too much. Williamson was drafted no. 1 by the New Orleans Pelicans and seen by some as the NBA's next prodigy. When Williamson is healthy, he's a force to be reckoned with. His ability to attack the basket, haul in rebounds, and protect the rim, is super impressive at 6'5, 280 plus lbs. It's his availability that has been an issue for Williamson. He didn't take the court in his rookie year until January and has yet to suit up this season. To his defense, the Pelicans haven't done anything please Williamson in his three years with the team. They've had a three different coaches in every season which is a recipe to make your franchise player unhappy. However, Williamson must take better care of his weight. If Charles Barkley is concerned, that tells you something.
PreviewPreview2:51Shaq & Chuck Roasting Zion Williamson on Inside the NBA YouTube · House of HighlightsNov 2, 2021
The New York Yankees have been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the 2021 season. With high expectations, they have underachieved. Whenever it looks like they might have figured it out, they once again go back to their losing ways. Even if they somehow sneak into the playoffs, they probably won't go far, and there will certainly be changes once the season ends.
Their problems start at the plate where they can't capitalize with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are practically at the bottom of the league when it comes to that category. Home runs - their strength at the plate - have come less frequently than in other years. They also lack contact hitters; too many players look to hit home runs and end up striking out. DJ LeMahieu, their best contact hitter in recent years, resigned for six years and $90 million, but he hasn't matched his play from the previous two seasons. Guys who were seen as key players in previous years such as Gleyber Torres have struggled. Their power hitter Giancarlo Stanton hasn't been the big time player the Yankees envisioned when they inherited his big contract. Only Aaron Judge has been the most successful hitter this year. He is leading the team in home runs, batting average, and RBIs while staying healthy so far.
As for their pitching, it seems like every time this unit takes one step forward, they then proceed to take two steps back. Gerrit Cole for the most part, has shown why he was worth the big contract the Yankees gave him, but he doesn't get much run support. The same can be said for Jordan Montgomery who pitched five starts without any run support from his teammates before last Thursday. Corey Kluber had appeared to be finding his groove after pitching a no-hitter in mid-May, before injuring his shoulder. By the time he gets back, the Yankees will likely be all, but eliminated from making the postseason. Domingo German and Jamesson Taillon have had their moments, but aren't long term answers. Their bullpen, which was viewed as their biggest pitching strength prior to the season, has blown a bunch of games where they appeared to have a comfortable lead. Three of those blown leads have come when they were leading by four or more runs entering the eighth inning.
These problems however extend beyond the diamond. It has been apparent that Aaron Boone hasn't been able to light a spark in this team, and he's made poor decisions in some of their losses. In their last loss to Boston for example, he pulled Domingo German in the eighth inning after giving up his first hit even though he probably could've pitched to one or two more batters. I've always thought that Boone has been unfairly criticized over the years, but if this team keeps underperforming, there's little he could say to convince management to retain him for another year. That's not to say they're not at fault either. Brian Cashman believed that he had a roster that could contend so he ignored areas that turned out to be flaws, whether it was the lack of left handed hitting, athleticism on defense, or a consistent rotation. Their player development has also been subpar if you realize they've developed no one who looks like a foundational player in the last five years outside of Judge. Cashman has done many good things for the franchise, but with this year likely being their 12th year without even sniffing a World Series, he should go.
Overall, this is looking like a lost season for the Yankees. As mentioned earlier, the only positive from this season has been a healthy Judge. While it's still possible for them to turn it around and sneak into the wild card, it seems more unlikely as they keep losing. On the bright side, the Yankees are usually able to find ways to turn it around after a rough season. That doesn't mean that they should make any moves at the trade deadline. If they find out that the players they want such as Trevor Story or Starling Marte are likely staying put, they should wait for free agency because they're not one player away from turning it around. What they should do at the deadline, is try to trade starters for prospects with high potential. Hopefully, this team makes the necessary moves to climb back in contention.
Last season, the Yankees were a little bit of a disappointment. Picked by many to win the World Series, the Yankees couldn't adapt to a season that was heavily affected by COVID-19. This resulted in a roller coaster season full of high and low moments, ultimately ending in a divisional series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. But as Spring Training is right around the corner, there are many reasons to look forward to 2021.
One reason for optimism is the Yankees' successful offseason. For the most part, they were able to check off some of their important priorities starting with re-signing star infielder DJ Lemahieu. Since he was signed to a two year contract, Lemahieu has outplayed his deal and has become a major contributor to the team. In the beginning of the offseason, the negotiations for a new contract started off on a rocky note, but both sides were able to agree to a deal consisting of six years and $90 million. In addition, Brian Cashman signed two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to a one year deal. Despite injuries over the last two seasons, management probably believes that he could add depth to the rotation and become a mentor for the younger pitchers.
There are other bright spots of last year that will be primed to make an impact next season, starting with their 6 ft 7 slugger, Aaron Judge. Last year, he was looking like an MVP candidate during the first stretch of the season, which included six home runs in five games. Injuries put him out of the race, but he returned toward the end of the season, and had a strong postseason. Fellow hitter Giancarlo Stanton also served as a contributor after being sidelined for the majority of last year. While he also dealt with injuries, he returned to play a prominent role when the postseason arrived. Both players have changed their winter routines, in hopes of reducing the amount of injuries they get. Gerrit Cole, their prized free agent signing last offseason, has looked like a good signing for the most part. After a streaky start, he rebounded in September and was very solid in the postseason. With the urgency to win a championship increasing, these guys must continue to produce.
While the Yankees didn't adjust well to the season's modifications as a result of COVID-19, the effect the pandemic had on baseball last year, shouldn't be the case this year. Last season, the shortened schedule affected the Yankees chances of making the playoffs at a higher seed. When there was a month to go toward the end of last season, the Yankees were barely in the playoff picture at a record of 21-21. Had that been in a 162 game season, there wouldn't have been any concern, but here were the Yankees in danger of missing the playoffs. They then went on a tear as the season ended, going on a 10 game winning streak, the kind of momentum that they're usually able to maintain with a full schedule.
Even with last year's disappointing finish, there were still some bright spots that will be essential going into next season. In what will likely be a less uncertain baseball season, the Yankees should be able to rediscover their winning ways on a more consistent basis. On top of that, they checked off some of their most notable offseason priorities. This is a team that can really break through the playoffs and hopefully capture a long-awaited 28th championship.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.
This MLB season has already been one of the craziest seasons in recent memory. One week after the season started, there were so many COVID cases that commissioner Rob Manfred threatened to end the season. But the game went on, and with this year's format of 16 playoff teams because of the shortened 60 game season, this postseason will probably be even more wild.
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2 ALDS
8. Toronto Blue Jays 0
1. Tampa Bay Rays 3
5. New York Yankees 2
4. Cleveland Indians 1
5. New York Yankees 2 ALCS
1. Tampa Bay Rays 4
2. Oakland A's 2
3. Minnesota Twins 2
6. Houston Astros 0
2. Oakland A's 3
3. Minnesota Twins 1
2. Oakland A's 2
7. Chicago White Sox 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
1. Tampa Bay Rays 2
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 2 NLDS
8. Milwaukee Brewers 0
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 3
4. San Diego Padres 0
4. San Diego Padres 2 NLCS
5. St. Louis Cardinals 1
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 4
2. Atlanta Braves 1
3. Chicago Cubs 2
6. Miami Marlins 0
2. Atlanta Braves 3
3. Chicago Cubs 2
2. Atlanta Braves 2
7. Cincinnati Reds 0
With baseball finally back in action after a messy hiatus, the New York Yankees have wasted no time proving why this year is their year. Despite averaging 98 wins over the last three seasons, they haven't been able to break through in the playoffs, losing to the eventual American League champion each year. But as of now the Yankees look World Series bound, as their 9-4 start is currently one of baseball's best records. Here's a look inside their hot start and expectations moving forward.
As I mentioned, the Yankees have been one of the best teams with their 9-4 start, and there's no luck to it. Their hot start includes a seven game win streak, featuring a sweep over the rival Boston Red Sox. At the center of this early season surge is none other than their 6'7" slugger Aaron Judge. He's been playing like an MVP, hitting .302/.362/.837, along with an amazing seven home runs. Six of those have come in five games with two game winners. Members who were injured last year like Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are now healthy and making a difference again. It's particularly a good sight for the Yankees to see Stanton, who was out for the majority of last season, re emerge as one of the team's reliable hitters. But that doesn't mean last year's unexpected heroes have been a no-show. First baseman DJ LeMahieu is still one of the best contact hitters in baseball, leading the team with a .429 batting average. Third baseman Gio Urshela hasn't stopped making impossible throws while falling away, and also produces timely hits. The pitching unit improved thanks to Gerrit Cole's nine year, $324 million contract. So far, he's upped his 16 game win streak last season to 19 this year, and has shown no signs of stopping. The Yankees have also enjoyed the return of Masahiro Tanaka last week, and are awaiting the return of Aroldis Chapman to the bullpen.
There's no reason why the Yankees shouldn't be able to continue their success. Their A.L. foes, the Houston Astros and Red Sox, are still in disarray after the sign stealing scandals. This leaves the door wide open for the Yankees to finally appear in the World Series. There are some challenges, as they will have to play more playoff games due to this year's format of adding three teams into the playoff picture. But with the way they're playing right now, they don't have a lot of reason to be concerned about increased competition. Threats in the A.L. are scarce, as the Yankees swept the 10-4 Minnesota Twins in last year's divisional series. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are likely to be their World Series opponent, could be their biggest postseason challenge. Other than that, the Yankees are in a great position to become more than a contender to win a championship.
It's a very good time to be a Yankees fan. Their successful start brings a lot of hope toward a World Series and possibly a championship. The season could get cancelled if more COVID-19 outbreaks come from players on other teams, but cases were expected to occur even before the season started. All the Yankees can do, is focus on being safe, testing negative and play good baseball. So far, so good!
Events of the past several weeks have shown that there is profound social unrest in our country. Over centuries, African Americans have been discriminated against in many different ways, recently escalating with incidents of police brutality and violence. At least three African Americans - Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd - were killed by either the police or white civilians earlier this year. Thousands of protests are happening all over America as a way of responding to the injustice. As a result, many athletes have been using their social platform to create change, take a stand, and call for action.
Notable athletes have been vocal for change, using their platform to speak out. One of those players has been none other than LeBron James. He has made many social media posts expressing the difficulties of being an African American, letting people know the reasons for his activism, and stating that white people always command African Americans what to do. He made an emotional video with the sound of a basketball hitting the floor and as the ball hit the floor, a new white command would pop up. The captions went from "Shut up and dribble", which Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told him back in 2018, to "Shut up and lay still." James concluded the video saying, "This is why we can't just stick to sports. Do you understand now?" Colin Kaepernick has probably earned the most praise from other athletes and coaches since he kneeled for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season. His purpose was to draw attention to all of the racism and police brutality against African-Americans. He's now became a symbol of resistance to the unfair treatment of African Americans. Recently, he created a legal defense initiative called Know Your Rights Camp "for victims of excessive force by police terrorism and civil rights violations."
NFL and MLB players have created group videos for their own respective leagues condemning racism. The NFL video featured Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, and others. All of the players pushed the NFL to make a statement condemning racism, saying "What will it take? For one of us to be brutally murdered by the police?" They named numerous African Americans who were killed, that could've been them. The video concludes with all of them stating, "On behalf of the National Football League this is what we, the players would like to hear you state: We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We the National Football League believe Black Lives Matter." www.instagram.com/p/CBN8b4Kn4S0/
As for baseball, Giancarlo Stanton tweeted a video which included him and other players such as Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. They used #Players4BLM while vowing to make their voices louder toward creating change. Their message was, "We've been told that our peaceful pleas were not made at the right time, at the right place, in the right way. We've been told to 'wait.' But we remember when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that the word 'wait' has almost always meant never. We will wait no longer. We will make our voices louder for all of us who can and for all of those who could not." www.instagram.com/p/CBeefY6lNeu/
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a longtime friend of George Floyd. After hearing the news of his death, he flew to Minneapolis, where he's spoken at rallies about Floyd's story to bring attention to the police brutality that still occurs. Soon, he became an unforeseen spokesman for the family and the Black Lives Matter movement which has gained momentum around the world. He also gave a passionate speech on May 29 during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall. At Floyd's funeral in Houston, he sat next to Floyd's daughter Gianna and later held her up on her shoulders at a rally. Jackson not only promises to take care of Gianna, but to bring justice for the family. His work earned lots of praise from many players, commissioner Adam Silver, former teammates, and coaches.
Despite the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is still controversy over some methods of protesting. Drew Brees said in an interview that he will never agree with anyone who kneels during the National Anthem. Many people such as James and even Brees's teammates spoke out against Brees. Even though Brees is well-liked within the football community, his comments show the lack of understanding he and many other Americans still have about racism. The responses from many fans and players who were upset by his comments shows the increase in their support toward protests against discrimination. Shortly after the interview, Brees issued an apology pledging to be an ally for the African-American community in fighting for racial equality and social justice.
This is the first time that athletes of all sports are using their social platform to create change. LeBron James recently created an initiative called More Than a Vote with the goal of standing up against racist voter suppression by educating, energizing, and protecting communities. Other athletes and entertainers have teamed up together to reach out to communities. Within one month, the organization has already identified major cities in key states in hopes of having an impact.
During this month, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace spoke out against the Confederate flag, saying it was a symbol of hate, not heritage. He successfully used his platform as the the only full-time African American driver at the top level to call for Confederate flags to be banned at NASCAR events. His viewpoints have caused him to give up sponsorships, but he has always put his beliefs over money. Shortly after he took this stand, a rope was found in his garage which was thought to be a noose. After investigations, it turned out not to be a hate crime, but the support he received was encouraging. This included an emotional procession of other drivers following Wallace who was driving his car to the front of the pit road.
This is a unique time for our country. It's important that athletes contribute to society in other ways besides just playing sports. Those ways may be varied, but recently many have come together with the purpose of working toward racial equality. It's time for the rest of the world to not just approve the work that athletes are doing, but rather make our own effort to make a difference in some way.
Here are some links to organizations founded by and supported by athletes: