NFL Protests: League Came Together for a Powerful Day

Denver Broncos kneel in protest during the national anthem before their game against the Buffalo Bills. (Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY Sports)

by  via usatoday.com

Empty sidelines in Nashville and Chicago. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan standing arm in arm with his players. The Miami Dolphins wearing “I’m With Kap” T-shirts during warm-ups. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis eloquently explaining his change of heart about players protesting during the national anthem. The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump.

Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground. “Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire,” Davis said in a statement. “… Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers.“That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”

Be it Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King or Magic Johnson, sports has long been the prism through which we see society. And fondly as we regard those trailblazers now, that wasn’t always the case. Changing hearts and minds, getting people to shed their stereotypes and ignorance, took sacrifice, anger and, yes, even protest.

In that way, the NFL’s league-wide show of unity was merely the latest in a long history of sports and activism being intertwined. It wasn’t even particularly radical when measured against the outspokenness and activism by current NBA players and coaches.

But what made Sunday so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression. The NFL barely tolerates touchdown celebrations, let alone a call to acknowledge the pervasive racism that marginalizes a good portion of our country.

Maybe that’s what Trump was counting on with his remarks Friday — and again Saturday and Sunday — that were as ignorant as they were inflammatory, yet more racist dog whistles for his base. Perhaps he figured the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick would let his thinly veiled bigotry pass in uncomfortable silence.

But the NFL showed Sunday that Trump has badly overplayed his hand.

“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seattle Seahawks said in a statement announcing that the team would stay in the locker room during the national anthem.

Even in a league where blinders might as well be part of the uniform, it was not lost on anyone that Trump found a way to defend Nazi protesters yet called Kaepernick and anyone else who protested during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).” Ditto for his history of calling out and criticizing people of color while letting egregious behavior by whites go unchallenged.

The demonstrations by Kaepernick and the other players who have joined in are not about the national anthem or the military or the flag. They never have been. They are about the racism that continues to be pervasive in our society, manifesting itself in police brutality, economic inequality and disparity in education and opportunity.

No one is naïve enough to assume the NFL will now be the standard bearer in this latest fight for civil rights; moving as all the demonstrations were, it did not go unnoticed that the theme was “unity” rather than inequality, and that very few white players took a knee.

To read full article, go to: NFL protests: League came together for a powerful day

Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA

Pro Football QB and Activist Colin Kaepernick (photo via theundefeated.com)

via eurweb.com

Colin Kaepernick has pledged $25,000 toward aid for immigrant youth and efforts to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. The news comes in the wake of Donald Trump’s announced end of DACA, leaving the fate of some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children up to Congress.

Kaepernick, who remains a free agent for the NFL, has been at the center of political controversy since his decision to take a knee last year during the National Anthem in protest of racism and police brutality. Additionally the former quarterback had pledged to donate $1 million toward efforts to help communities affected by systemic racism, social injustice and police brutality.

Kaepernick announced that a quarter of the $100,000 he donates to that end each month (for 10 months) will go toward children of immigrant backgrounds who are being affected by Trump’s planned repeal of DACA. In partnership with United We Dream – the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S. – he will contribute a percentage of the amount to the following areas:

• Addressing the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. Over 100,000 members. Current focus: Organize and work for immigrant children to keep DACA in force.

• $10,000 for upcoming travel. Air, hotel, lodging, and ground transportation. United We Dream recently held event in Washington DC and sent 300 dreamers to lobby to keep DACA. This budget will pay for 75-100 attendees for a similar rally upcoming.

• $10,000 for series of upcoming local gatherings in NY, CT, TX, FL, NM. Facilities rent and security, transportation, food, technology

• $5,000 for text service for the network of over 100,000 members.

Source: Colin Kaepernick Pledges $25K Toward Efforts to Keep DACA | EURweb

Sloane Stephens Defeats Madison Keys to Win U.S. Open and her 1st Grand Slam Title

U.S. Open Women’s Singles Champion Sloane Stevens (photo via latimes.com)

by Helene Elliott via latimes.com

Unseeded Sloane Stephens, who was ranked No. 957 in the world less than two months ago, soared to the top of the tennis world on Saturday with a powerful 6-3, 6-0 victory over 15th-ranked fellow American Madison Keys in the U.S. Open women’s finals.

Stephens, who underwent foot surgery and missed 11 months of competitive play, was confident but patient from the start on Saturday in this matchup of two first-time Grand Slam finalists. She broke Keys’ serve in the first set to take a 3-2 lead, capitalizing on Keys’ nervousness. She won the first set on her second chance, when Keys hit a forehand long, and needed three chances to win the match and the title.

When Keys hit a forehand into the net to end it, Stephens put her hand over her mouth as if in disbelief, closed her eyes for an instant, and then joined the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium in celebrating. “I told her I wish there could have been a draw because I wish we would have both won,” Stephens said. “My journey’s been incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Stephens, 24, and Keys, 22, embraced at the net for several moments. Keys, who had overcome injury problems of her own — she had two wrist surgeries in the last year — appeared to be crying as the two friends hugged. Afterward, they sat together and smiled as they waited for the winner’s and runner-up trophies to be awarded. “Sloane is truly one of my favorite people,” Keys said on the court after the match. “Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis but Sloane was very supportive. If there’s someone I have to lose to today, I’m glad it’s her.”

It was only the seventh time in tennis’ Open Era and second at the U.S. Open that two first-time finalists had played for a Grand Slam title. It also was the 10th time two American women met in the U.S. Open singles final. The last time was in 2002, when Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus Williams.

To read more, go to: Sloane Stephens routs Madison Keys to win U.S. Open and her first Grand Slam title – LA Times