In Memory of George Floyd:
Play Like a Champion Listens and Acts
June 5, 2020
Play Like a Champion is Committed to Listening
Riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 1967
The ongoing unrest following George Floyd’s death is a cry for justice from our Black neighbors across the country. We must not wonder why people have taken to the streets to protest and to express their anger. We haven’t been listening. The chant “Black Lives Matter” is more than a cry of protest against police brutality and the failure of the criminal justice system. The voices of Black Americans are trying to convey to complacent White Americans that they are “sick and tired” of having to convince White Americans of their basic humanity and equal rights as citizens. It is imperative that all White Americans stop and humbly listen. We need to examine our consciences. We need to acknowledge the failures within all of our systems to render fair and just treatment. Just as George Floyd ran out of breath, we as a democratic nation are running out of breath – the breath of freedom and justice for all. Play Like a Champion Today is listening.
Next month we celebrate Independence Day. White and Black Americans are taught in grade school that all human beings are “endowed by their creator” with the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” While that Declaration is a hallowed work, its signers betrayed their own consciences in signing it because the Declaration permitted slavery to continue. The revolution was left unfinished. Its second battle, the Civil War, was left unfinished because when slavery was abolished, White Americans systemically oppressed Black Americans through lynchings; Jim Crow laws; voter suppression; discrimination practices in housing, education, employment, and healthcare; and mass incarceration. Racism is so embedded in American society that it flourishes in spite of what White Americans may think or feel about Black Americans. Dismantling racism demands that we overcome the inertia of the status quo. Are we ready to listen? And, more importantly, are we ready to do something about it? Are we ready to take action?
Play Like a Champion is Committed to Acting
Play Like a Champion Today has been working to cut off one invisible hand of racism, which operates through the seemingly “harmless” policy of the “pay-to-play” system. No longer do Black and White children in low income neighborhoods have the freedom to play sports and recreate after school and during the summer. Now only those whose parents can pay the fees and costs of joining a team can take part in the formative experiences of learning a sport; cooperating as a teammate; getting healthier and stronger through regular physical exertion; and developing mentally and spiritually under the care of wise coach-mentors. The “pay to play” approach is neither fair nor just. Instead of investing in all children, we leave the most vulnerable of them in danger on the streets.
Play Like a Champion is crying out for freedom and justice for our nation’s marginalized children with its Team for Every Child Initiative. This initiative brings together predominantly Black American youth sport leaders, from low income urban neighborhoods, with leaders from surrounding more affluent communities. Our goal is to expand a coalition dedicated to “saving lives on the front end” by transforming our discriminatory “pay-to-play” system so that all children can play and develop to their full potential.
We refuse to watch billions of dollars being spent on travel sports while we allow millions of children to go without a safe place to play. We refuse to allow the pandemic of racism to calcify our hearts through this unjust system. We owe it to ALL of our children to make good on our promises of freedom and justice for ALL. Play Like a Champion Today is taking action. Will you join us?
Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series