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"Athletes have really found their voice": pros push dialogue on racism

The Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions
Professional athletes accross the country have walked out of their games and practices to stand against police brutality and racial injustices.

The sports world almost stopped on a dime as NBA teams, and even some baseball teams, followed the lead of the Milwaukee Bucks and declined to play in recognition of the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot and paralyzed August, 23 by Kenosha, Wisconsin police.

The players have agreed to resume play tonight. But, it is an extraordinary moment in sports that brought attention to racial injustices and police brutality in America.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions made the decision to cancel their training camp practice to take a stand against the shooting of Blake. They wore face masks and displayed several messages. One message on a large whiteboard and read, "The World Can't Go On."

The Detroit Lions were one of the first teams to strike.

“Certainly, they were a bit of a trendsetter, ” said John Niyo

Niyo is a reporter for The Detroit News who has been covering the sports strikes in Detroit.

Many other sports teams followed suit and canceled practices and games. Niyo stated that teams have realized the potential of their platforms in recent years and are beginning to use it for political activism, despite their fan’s opposition.

“It’s been a tough year for the stick-to-sports crowd, starting with the pandemic, and then particularly the last few months on the subject for racial justice,” Niyo said. “I mean, athletes have really found their voice, and at least in the pro-ranks, they’ve started to understand the power they wield.”

While not all sports team owners have agreed with teams taking political stances, the Ford family, who owns the Detroit Lions, has been supportive of the Lion’s message and decision to cancel practice.

“I think this is a team [the Lions] that has found its voice too, and an organization that, I mean they’re aware of the city they’re in, and the climate they’re in, but they’re aware of what their players are saying and feeling and speaking. Finally,” Niyo said.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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