Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Michigan Players Take a Solid Stand

To say Colin Kaepernick has ignited a national outcry against racial discrimination and injustice is an understatement. The reach of his standing and then kneeling has grown. Each week a new team, groups of fans or individuals is featured on social media outlets for kneeling or raising a fist. This past Sunday against the Penn State Nittany Lions, seven University of Michigan football players raised their fists in solidarity with Kaepernick and others affected by the killings of civilians by police officers. Seeing those seven Wolverines express their views, raised the question of why other football student-athletes from the Power Five conferences have not yet voiced their sentiments on a national stage.

Michigan Players Take a Solid Stand

Impact on All Student-Athletes

As a preliminary point, just because other student-athletes have yet to make public statements in relation to what is happening in today’s society, is not a reflection of their views. Their silence does not mean they do not feel the aftershocks of the multiple societal earthquakes that have shaken us as citizens. What was so remarkable about seeing these student-athletes take a national stand, was they truly showed the “student” aspect of their identity as student-athletes. Many members of the public like to remind each other, and the student-athletes, about how these young men and women are student-athletes. Their identity as students first are prevalent and strong, until those student-athletes attempt to express their views, or protect their rights, as other students would.

Impact on University Culture

A certain type of pride comes with attending colleges and universities. Fellow Penn Staters nationwide gleefully say “We Are” to one another in cities and states upon seeing one another after leaving the University Park/State College Area. And if you’re a Texas Ex, well “Hook ‘Em” and “throwing up your horns” become parts of your daily life. That being said, a sense of dedication to a college or university is a unique part of the American culture, and putting on a uniform to represent that particular institution is an honor that only a select few are able to enjoy. However, that honor is not to be valued more than the honor of representing where one comes from or one’s culture. It is simply an honor that is to be an addition to the cultures and values that an individual represents.

The Value of “Standing Up” for what You Believe In

It is my hope that the fans, classmates, professors and university personnel see the value in the student-athletes, who decide to express their views respectfully and publicly, not only as individuals who increase the teams’ rankings in the Associated Press and Coaches’ Polls, but also as students who, too, are representatives of the universities just like the student body president. It is quite odd, on the surface, that a group of individuals on a field or court have the power to create a camaraderie between individuals who ordinarily would not know each other; however, an athletic team is in fact what we, as citizens, strive to be. We strive to put our own interests aside for the betterment of society, just as individuals on successful teams do. We strive to accept one another, fully, for who we are because without the strengths of each individual, we are simply mediocre. This is not to say that athletic teams do not have their weaknesses or downfalls, but the successful ones collectively address those downfalls, learn from them, grow, move on, yet never forget.

Let us strive to truly see the value in one another in all aspects of life, and not just athletics; because without that, we will simply remain mediocre when we could be undeniably great.

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