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Take the Opportunity Not the Knee

Updated on October 23, 2017

Professional athletes have been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. They say they are protesting police violence and specifically violence against people of color. While violence against anyone is despicable, most of us can't do much about it. We lack the finances and the public platform needed to affect real change. This is not the case with professional athletes. They are in the unique position of having the money, the platform and the street "cred" to really change things; kids idolize them, the press listens to them and they are paid a lot of money.

The athletes getting the most press are, of course, the NFL players taking the knee during the National Anthem or using the Black Panther fist. Other professional athletes have joined the NFL and so have college and high school players. What I would like to talk about is the NHL. The NHL has two players (that I have seen press about) who, instead of the empty gestures with knees or fists, are implementing programs in their teams' home towns to change the dialogue between police and minorities. They are putting their faces, influence and money into programs to create positive relationships between police and children so that when these children grow up they don't have the negative view that so poisons our society right now.

What are these programs? They are programs that partner children with police officers at games and after-game activities that the players are also involved in. The players provide some if not all of the funding and they provide the tickets to the games. One player went to the Tampa police to learn (that's right, LEARN) about what the police face. He was interested in finding out why the relationship between the police and the public was so negative.

Why don't the protesting NFL players try this. The problem with the anthem protests is two-fold. First, it really is a slap in the face of the service men and women who risk their lives or have given their lives in the defense of this country. Second, it's a cheap gesture that does nothing to improve the situation. If you feel you are being oppressed, do something. Stop whining, stop kneeling, stop raising your fist. Do something constructive to change society. Look to the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. he had less money and, at the beginning, less publicity, than you and look at what he achieved. Think about what you can achieve.

© 2017 sr nancy ruth

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