02.04.2018

Black athletes have long history of not sticking to sports

Black athletes have long history of not sticking to sports In this Feb. 25, 1966 file photo, While Illinois Athletic Commission listened, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali speaks, in Chicago. Ali had criticized his imminent army draft. (AP Photo/File)

This year’s NFL season featured two of America’s pastimes: football and race, with pre-game protests dividing fans along color lines and making Sunday afternoons among the most segregated hours in the country.

While some fans would prefer players stick to sports, many black athletes have chosen a different path by protesting, making people uncomfortable.

“The whole purpose of the demonstrations is to get (fans’) attention,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in an interview with The Associated Press. “These are the people that ignore the fact that people are being shot dead in the street. They’ve found ways to ignore it.”

For weeks, some NFL players, most of them African-American, knelt silently on the sidelines as the national anthem played before kickoff. Their goal: to raise awareness about disparities in policing in communities of color , and about persistent, systemic racism in America.

It was a new approach to an age-old problem.

For generations, black athletes from heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson to tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick have protested in ways large and small to highlight injustice, galvanize support and move the country forward. Often met with backlash from fans uninterested in mixing sports and social issues, many have taken stances that have cost them their careers.

For the full story,  visit APNews.com.