A year ago, KSDK sports reporter Ahmad Hicks was part of the St. Louis Blues historic run to the Stanley Cup. He also was there as the St. Louis Cardinals cobbled together a gutty season that took them to the National League Championship Series.
A week ago, Hicks dared challenge the Blues and Cardinals for the joint statement on racism and equality that said nothing, in his opinion.
He has risked his young, flourishing career in St. Louis. He doesn't care. He should be applauded.
“The Blues whiffed on a slap shot. The Cardinals swung and missed on a hanging curveball,” Hicks wrote in a commentary on the KSDK website.
“Our city stands divided. Our country is on fire. George Floyd, a black man, died at the hands of the police. His death has sparked outrage and disappointment across every state.
“I know this is a very sensitive topic, and I'm normally reluctant to be this open on this matter. But normally teams and players stay silent as well because let’s be real, it’s too controversial. But what’s happening right now in America feels different. Players and organizations are using their platforms to speak up. This is something as an adult, I have never seen before.”
The key sentences in his article come next. They are questions that all professional sports franchise owners and players must ask themselves.
“We all know that racism and injustice is wrong, right? So what is the problem denouncing it? Or calling it out? Losing a supporter or fan who isn’t ready to face the reality of our times shouldn't be a concern. Listening to those hurting or being willing to change the way you think is okay,” Hicks wrote.
Here is the joint statement that Hicks has properly called out as weak.
“The St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Cardinals stand united in support of racial equality for all and with those who march peacefully to highlight and protest racism, bigotry and violence. There is no place for intolerance in our society. We also stand with those who work every day to better society and with those who honorably wear the uniform as they protect and serve all of us. We will continue to work together as One Nation and ask that all our supporters join us in rebuilding our efforts to give back and support the community we love.”
Hicks wrote, correctly, that the tag-team effort falls way short of other organizations’ respective statements.
“Most MLB and NHL organizations stepped up to the plate and addressed the matter directly. Instead, in my opinion, the Blues missed an empty netter, and the Cardinals struck out looking,” Hicks wrote.
“They didn’t address the actual problem! They failed to mention RACISM and police brutality against people of color shouldn’t be accepted or tolerated. The statement didn’t include George Floyd or black lives. They failed to use their platform which, if we do the math -- reaches nearly 3.5 million people on social media.”
There was swift negative reaction to his article. I doubt Hicks is in St. Louis a year from now. My guess is that he’ll find a better job in a larger metropolitan area. KSDK will make no effort to retain him.
Hicks’ entire commentary is here: https://bit.ly/3hlFEOK.
It is well worth the read.
Dexter deals tough hand
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler is no stranger to controversy and frequent written abuse online from many Cardinals fans.
It’s his contract, his statistics, they say. It’s obvious the color of his skin plays a role too.
This didn’t stop him from posting a wonderful commentary on Instagram that has inspired another rush of intolerance from many of its readers.
“Here’s the thing. I know it’s hard to fully grasp why black people are outraged,” wrote Fowler.
“It’s hard to grasp unless you’ve seen people hold their purses tighter when you walk by, when you have people refer to you as ‘not black’ when you’re not ‘ghetto.’ When your parents have to give you a talk when you’re just a kid. ‘You can’t act like your white friends. You’ll get killed. They won’t.’
“This is a generational discussion EVERY black family has. It terrifies you as a kid, and as an adult.”
“You don’t understand why we know, those officers didn’t flinch at murdering that man, because he is black,” Fowler continued.
“The race card. We hold it. You tell us ‘it’s not about race,’' if we ever hold you to it. You don’t want us to have even that 1 bone chilling ‘privilege’' of defense. You don’t want us to hold any privilege.
“We don’t hold the privilege of being a criminal, making a mistake, or simply taking a jog, the same as a white man, and being treated the same.
“He couldn’t breathe. He was murdered. They were gently fired from their jobs. This isn’t right. This can’t go on. (if you assume ‘you’ is you, and you’re upset about the generalization...... just think about that for a second).”
Certainly, this more than just “upset” a few people. I’m sure many so-called Cardinals fans are seething.
But they also have to now be angry at pitcher Adam Wainwright.
“(P)owerful words here had a big affect me and my family. Here’s something my fellow white people need to know. I reached out to tell him that I was sure he didn’t need my affirmation but just wanted him to know he was awesome and making a difference,” Wainwright wrote on Twitter in response to Fowler’s comment.
“So, here’s my message to my white brothers and sisters out there... please reach out to your friends who have a different skin color than you. Encourage them. Tell them you love them. Tell them they’re awesome. It’s important. Our voices and actions matter to help us recover.”
Whether St. Louis ever recovers - or even tries - remains to be seen.
Goodell can’t say Kaepernick
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could bring himself to apologize in a shot video, on behalf of the league, to black players for not truly listening to their concerns about police brutality, racism and inequality in America.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you and want to be a part of the much needed change in this country. Without black players there would be no National Football League,” Goodell said in a segment of his statement.
The obvious name that is missing here, and throughout the statement, is Colin Kaepernick.
He was among the first players to knee during the national anthem. He wasn’t the first black athlete to protest in some fashion while the song played. Some NFL players are still taking this action.
The NFL blackballed Kaepernick because of his peaceful and legal protest.
Yet, Goodell couldn’t find a way to work his name into the statement.
Goodell is obviously sincere in his apology. I’m sure his words were vetted by every owner in the NFL before he released it publicly. My guess is that his only marching order was to not mention Kaepernick's name. It was an order he dutifully fulfilled.
The Reid Roundup
So much stuff, where do we begin?
Washington Redskins running back and future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson said this week that he and other players will take a knee during the national anthem.“Just four years ago, you’re seeing (Colin) Kaepernick taking a knee, and now we’re all getting ready to take a knee together going into this season, without a doubt.”... Several of the NFL’s most outstanding black players are speaking out against racism and police brutality in a brilliantly produced video released last week. Among them are superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl, said, “(Patrick Mahomes’ involvement) was huge,” Williams told The Undefeated. “We’re not talking about a 15-year veteran. We’re talking about a young man who’s not even 25. It says a lot that he wanted to be involved in pushing for that change. It was very powerful.” ... Bubba Wallace, whose sponsors include World Wide Technology, is the lone black driver on the NASCAR Cup Series. He donned a Black Lives Matter shirt before a race last week and said Confederate Flags at races should be banned. “No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them,” Wallace told CNN's Don Lemon... Iowa’s football program has suspended strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle after several black players alleged he attacked them verbally with racial insults. Both black and white players plan to kneel during the national anthem and defensive back Kaevon Merriweather told fans on Twitter, “If you cannot support us right now with this movement and with our team taking a knee during the national anthem, DO NOT support us during the football season.”... Former Florida gymnast Kytra Hunter, the nation’s top collegiate gymnast in 2015, said she faced racist taunts from her own teammates throughout her stellar career. “They said things like ‘Are you going to cater fried chicken and watermelon at your wedding?’' or ‘'We saved you a seat in the back of the bus,’ or repeatedly saying the ‘'N-word’ as if they had no idea that it should not be said.’... Another star gymnast that competed in the SEC for one year at Alabama, Tia Kiaku, said this week an assistant coach asked her and other black teammates gathered at a vault, “Is this the back of the bus?” She also heard teammates tossing the N-word around. “I have been doing gymnastics since I was three years old, and I have lived in the South. But this is the first time I have ever experienced anything like this.” She withdrew from Alabama in February...Texas State basketball coach Danny Kaspar in under investigation for many alleged racial remarks toward black and European players. He allegedly told black players to “chase that chicken,” among other insults. He told a European player that many of the team’s fans are Trump supporters and that if he kept making errors in practice they would have him deported...Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is critical of owner Jerry Jones, his son Stephen and former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten for not attending a peaceful march in Austin. “Somebody should have brought Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Witten to this protest down in Austin, This is not a policy change, this is a heart change and yea I said it.”... There has been no comment from Jerry Jones in regard to the potential of players kneeling during the national anthem. Three years ago, Jones said any player who protested during the song would no longer be a Cowboy ... Also, no word if quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have changed their tunes in regard to standing for the anthem. They backed Jones threat in the past.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.