Unlike the 1960s and 1970s, professional sports players today have been hesitant to standing up for causes in this country such as race relations and police brutality. With the millions of dollars players are making in endorsements, there are a number of major sports stars that have remained silent on social issues, but it appears things are starting to change.
At the 2016 ESPY last July, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony took the stage together and urged more athletes to be more actively socially. Last month Colin Kaepernick began protesting because of what he says are racist police practices and behavior by kneeling during the national anthem before the start of games. And now a few players on the Miami Dolphins roster are also protesting police brutality and racism by not standing for the national anthem.
On Sunday, four Dolphins players—Arian Foster, Jelani Jenkins, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills decided to take a knee during the national anthem. Just 10 days earlier, all four players stood up for the anthem in the Dolphins preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans.
Foster said not standing was a good way to show his support against social injustices.
“It wasn’t anything I disagreed with, Foster said. I’ve always felt certain injustices. Every person of color has felt like that at some point of another. I’m pretty sure you have too (as he asks the reporter)? So I’ve always been taught to move about your business and try to help people as you can. I’ve never do charitable acts in front of cameras because I feel like it really is not really genuine. The platform that we have and the conversation that we started and I just felt it was a good way to show my support to continue the conversation.”
Foster said he would continue to take a knee this week when the Dolphins visit the New England Patriots.
“Yeah,” Foster said about taking a knee again. “We still feel the same way.”
While he said he isn’t trying to be an activist, but Foster said he is trying to figure things out on his own.
“I know my experiences; I know what I heard and it never would have come up in the first place if Kaepernick wouldn’t have taken a knee, especially in our locker room. Anytime you talk politics or religion or anything of that sort when it gets a little deep and a little personal—if you’re in the conversation for the right reasons. It is hard to change a grown man’s mind.”
Stills is still deciding if he will continue to protest in Week 2 against the Patriots. He also said he and other teammates had a group discussion about social injustices on the long plane ride from Seattle.
Miami’s players have caught a lot of heat from fans and various media outlets for choosing to kneel during the national anthem on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Stills insisted that the players were just trying to do the right thing.
“It stinks and it hurts, I guess, that people feel the way they do,” Stills said. “But just understand that we’re doing what we think is right. … People close to me know who I am and understand who I am. They know that I’m trying to do the right thing.”
Foster said he wants to continue the fight that’s going on and the work in the communities. He also said he along with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross want to create awareness about the problems that are going on in this country.
“The owner of this organization is the founder of a foundation called Rise and he does a lot of work in the community, Foster said. “And I was unaware of that before I took a knee. So just that connection between myself and him can spark a lot of good. And we are going to talk a lot this week to see what we can get down going forward. We are all going to continue to touch lives of others that need help because this is all what this is all about and inspiring others. “
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