Recently, a bevy of both professional and college athletes have been seen wearing the ‘I Can’t Breathe’ t-shirts during pre-game warm-ups and while on the bench. These shirts of course represent the last words of Eric Garner who said this multiple times in order to attempt to save his own life.
But what does this actually mean to the athletes like Derrick Rose, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant or to schools like Georgetown and Notre Dame?
It means that together have taken a stand through sports and the sport they play. It is obvious the pros know the position they are in as they influence millions of youth and their local communities.
Although the college kids are seen on a smaller scale they represent the same things. Both Georgetown and Notre Dame are schools founded on religious values and principles. and monitor their students under a more watchful eye. But even the most prim-and-proper schools turn a blind eye when student-athletes advocate for change. Under a thick microscope the Hoyas and Irish still came running out of the tunnel donning their shirts, a ploy to demonstrate solidarity with Garner and his family.
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is a contender for a national title each and every year. The Irish, who are currently ranked fifth in the AP Poll and have a nationally diverse fan base, decided to use their prominence and attention for a positive influence.
What we’ve seen from these pro and college athletes is a change of culture. Following the trend set by the aforementioned NBA stars and college teams, high school basketball teams around the country have joined in the gesture.
These actions will go down as one of the precious moments that the sports industry used its influence as a mechanism for affecting change. Good on the athletes and the team organizations nationwide for taking a stand for a cause they believe in, and a cause that we can all support.
*Section Photo credit to Michael Nelson, EPA; Featured Photo (above) credit to ABC7 Chicago