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The Good Press - Issue #20: Courage

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The Good Press

September 2 · Issue #20 · View online

A newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind


Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press.
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Courage
Standing up for what you believe in is a powerful thing. It can be frightening to stand up and put yourself out there, not knowing how the world will react.
Courage and bravery are about overcoming that fear, finding the strength to persevere, to have your convictions overwhelm any fear you have inside.
John Lewis was courageous and brave. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was courageous and brave. Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali were, too.
Some people don’t like it when athletes and sports overtly intertwine with “politics”. Yet, sports, civil rights, and social justice have always been linked. It is cognitive dissonance to think otherwise. The games can wait. Justice can’t.
I’ve been inspired this week by the words and actions of athletes all around this country, these young men and women who have used their power and their platforms to stand up for something far greater than themselves.
It’s been a long time coming. In the spirit of Robinson and Ali, to Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, the courageous use of sports as a platform for change is nothing new, and it isn’t stopping any time soon.
Recall the courage of Colin Kaepernick, the football player who, in 2016, began peacefully protesting the killing of Black Americans by police officers.
Kaepernick was all alone back then. He was vilified, ostracized, and blackballed from the NFL. His message of peace and justice was hijacked by bad faith attempts to link it to disrespect for the military, which it never was.
Rather than respond publicly, Kaepernick has spent the last four years doing the work, raising money for charity and education. He has become an unofficial advisor for athletes throughout the country who have been inspired by his selfless actions to create meaningful change for all Americans.
Slowly but surely, Kaepernick’s activism has inspired others.
The women of the WNBA have long supported the meaningful activism that Kaepernick called attention to. They’ve been peacefully demonstrating and protesting in powerful ways for years now and their players have been more united and focused as agents for change than any sports league in America.
Superstar Maya Moore, a multi-time champion, even chose to sacrifice her career in her athletic prime to fight for an innocent man to regain his freedom.
Maya Moore, the game-changer: ‘This is the epitome of using your platform’ | The Undefeated
The sad truth is that these protests, demonstrations, and activism are still necessary because Black Americans are still being brutalized by police.
No justice, no peace, no distractions afforded by a simple bouncing of a ball.
Last week, this brewing tension between calls for justice and the lack of progress towards that justice kicked off what may have ended up being the most historic day of sports activism in American history last Wednesday.
The Milwaukee Bucks, a strong championship contender in the NBA, chose to risk a forfeit loss to strike for their scheduled playoff game, leading to a breathtaking domino effect that reverberated throughout the sports world.
After the shocking police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin (45 minutes south of Milwaukee), the Bucks put out a statement explaining that “despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus for today cannot be on basketball.”
Soon, all six teams scheduled to play NBA playoff games had walked out, as well as all six teams scheduled to play WNBA games, and several Major League Baseball teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers and others.
22-year-old Naomi Osaka, one of the best tennis players in the world, went on strike and withdrew from the semifinals of her tennis tournament, saying in a powerful statement that “there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”
Five soccer games in Major League Soccer were then postponed after players walked out on Wednesday. By the time Friday hit, every MLB team had gone on strike for a game apiece, with the New York Mets and Miami Marlins engaging in a poignant protest on Thursday night, stepping onto the field for a 42-second moment of silence before striking and refusing to play the game.
42 seconds for the most famous uniform #42 in sports, Jackie Robinson, whose legacy just happened to be celebrated throughout baseball last week.
In Other Words
Jackie Robinson is one of my personal heroes, and he has been ever since my grandfather taught me all about him when I was young. My grandfather was there in 1947, watching from the stands at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field as Jackie showed the whole world that Black men belonged in Major League Baseball.
I do have some recommended reading this week. First, I would implore you to read “Dear Jackie,” by Shakeia Taylor. It’s crafted as a letter to Jackie Robinson, exploring how far we’ve come since 1947, and how far we haven’t.
Dear Jackie, - Shakeia Taylor | Baseball Prospectus
This part of her letter hit me right in the chest:
For decades, Black people in the United States have cried out in various ways about the injustices we face. For decades we’ve been told to protest the “right way” which really just amounts to a way in which non-Black people aren’t made to feel uncomfortable. But protests are supposed to make you uncomfortable. They’re supposed to inconvenience you. You see, peacefully protesting never really got us anywhere so recently things got a lot louder, a lot more intense. Black Americans along with allies from differing backgrounds have taken to the streets daily for weeks tearing down statues of known racists throughout history, creating murals honoring those killed, chanting, singing, dancing, crying. All completely and valid forms of protest, yet each time, they are met by police brutality.
Isn’t that incredible, Jackie? Police officers are defending their right to harass citizens, to kill with impunity. Why is trying to end racism so controversial? Why is asking that police not be above the law, being met with so much opposition?
I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. It’s unfathomable to see Americans being treated like their lives don’t matter, and that many people still don’t care. It brought Mets player Dominic Smith to tears after a game last week.
SNY
"I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care"

- An emotional Dom Smith describes the most of difficult part of the last few months for him https://t.co/DLyptwKPUp
The days of American athletes shutting up and just playing ball are over.
No longer will fans be able to ask for athletes to entertain us without us respecting their humanity once the clock hits zero and they’re just people.
My second recommended reading this week speaks to this reality, as ESPN’s Howard Bryant wrote about how Black pain is breaking sports’ status quo.
The reality of Black pain is breaking American sports' status quo
It’s a thought-provoking read, speaking about the way we in this country, as sports fans, take our athletes for granted. It’s something worth considering.
Already, these strikes, protests, and demonstrations have helped usher in tangible progress. Like LeBron James and his More Than A Vote initiative.
NBA star LeBron James emerges as a potent political force ahead of U.S. election | Reuters
Defeating systemic racism is not something a single act can accomplish. It won’t be a single person’s protest, a single person’s strike, a single person’s vote that erases America’s ugliest infrastructure. But together, we are so powerful. Courage is about being brave enough to be unafraid to lead the march toward progress not knowing how many will stand up and follow you.
Parting Thoughts
I want to thank everyone who sent in feedback on my dilemma about the future of the “Recommendations” section of the newsletter. There were a lot of opinions to consider, but for the most part, something I heard from many was for me to go with what feels right, to follow what comes up organically.
As you can see, I made the necessary adjustments, and I think The Good Press will be better for it. “In Other Words” as a section header will help me make the middle section of the newsletter as dynamic as I need it to be.
When it comes to courage, I think there’s a level of courage in waking up every day and being able to navigate life on the days where things are hard.
Our country and our beautiful world seem rockier than at any time in recent memory. The easy thing would be to cower in fear, scrolling through social media feeds, or watching 24/7 news channels and wallowing in what seems like an endless barrage of scary things that make you want to scream.
Turn the television off. Log out of your Facebook account. Spend an hour doing something more productive that makes you feel good. Then spend another hour and another. I promise you won’t miss anything that matters.
What matters is doing everything in your power to be your best you, and to encourage the people who matter to you to be their best them, too. That is something we can all do, and there’s a small bravery in doing just that.
Stand up for what matters to you. Believe in yourself and take the steps necessary to achieve your goals. Even on the days where it feels so hard, remember that you are strong enough and courageous enough to get it done.
Never stop fighting for what you believe in, no matter how long it may take, no matter how far away your goals are. Be brave, take that next step. Trust in your ability to accomplish it and keep marching forward, one day at a time.
-Jon
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press - Issue #19: Beginnings
The Good Press - Issue #18: Power
The Good Press - Issue #17: Adjustments
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