Gwen Berry

African-American hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist on the podium to draw attention to social issues.

Hopefully, a white man with red hair and the first name of Race will stir a passion among black athletes in America and move them to visibly demonstrate their opposition to racism. Maybe a black woman wearing blue lipstick with the guts to emulate American icons John Carlos and Tommie Smith can do the same.

Race Imboden, a member of the U.S. fencing team that won a Gold Medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, took a knee during the national anthem and medal ceremony on Friday, August 9.

Following his peaceful, yet forceful, protest, Imboden said on Twitter, “We must call for change.”

“This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart.

“Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list …  I chose to [sacrifice] my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

He would later tell the reporters, “It is not a time to stay silent.”

Imboden also knelt during the anthem during a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017.

A day later, African-American hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist on the podium to draw attention to social issues.

“Just a testament to everything I’ve been through in the past year, and everything the country has been through this past year,” she said after her protest, which was the same as Carlos and Smith's at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968.

“A lot of things need to be done and said and changed. I’m not trying to start a political war or act like I’m miss-know-it-all or anything like that. I just know America can do better.

“Every individual person has their own views of things that are going on. It’s in the Constitution, freedom of speech. I have a right to feel what I want to feel. It’s no disrespect at all to the country. I want to make that very clear. If anything, I’m doing it out of love and respect for people in the country.”

Of course, the governing body of the U.S. team is not happy with the protests.

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” Mark Jones, vice president of communications for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, said in a statement to the Associated Press the following day.

“We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”

The statement was released again after Berry raised her fist.

 Jones should have left out the part about respecting their rights. If the organization did, it would not be reviewing his punishment – and you best believe there will be a punishment for fear of angering the president.

A mass shooting by a deranged racist in El Paso, Texas has moved few black athletes (if any) to protest in any fashion. Not a single NFL player took a knee during the national anthem before a preseason game in the wake of the El Paso tragedy.

As for MLB players, don’t hold your breath, it ain’t happening.

Hopefully, Imboden and Berry's actions on a world stage will embolden other athletes to show the world they are sick of racism and the president’s persistent race baiting – and take a knee or at least talk loudly about the dreadful situation the nation is facing.

Good job guys!

While the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club RBI junior baseball team did not bring home the 2019 RBI World Series title, history shows that the trip to Vero Beach, Florida could set the stage for a future title.

The St. Louis squad dropped a 4-1 decision to Puerto Rico (Carolina) in its first qualifier round. Puerto Rico’s Diego Ortiz drove in two runs and starting pitcher Elmer Rodriguez threw 3 1/3 scoreless to pace the victory.

Manager Rae Merriweather’s team then displayed the tenacity that helped the squad bounce back from a Central Region second-place finish and earn a wild-card berth in the World Series with a win over host Indianapolis two weeks ago.

Mathews-Dickey bounce back to defeat a favored Harrisburg, Pennsylvania RBI 10-8 in its second game in the qualifying round.

Another win followed with a 14-4 thumping of Boston Red Sox RBI, setting up a possible trip to the semifinals.

A 6-4 loss to Miami RBI ended the team’s title dream.

Chicago White Sox RBI won the Junior Division Championship defeating Miami Marlins RBI 3-0 at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex.

Chicago starting pitcher Yashion Boswell was named the Most Valuable Player of the Junior Division Championship Game, having posted an impressive 2.10 earned run average during pool play and playoff games.

Chicago, after losing in the championship game last year to Philadelphia RBI, claimed its second RBI World Series title after winning in 2016.

We always tell them: Big-time guys make big-time plays in big-time situations,” said White Sox coach Marcus Rodgers, whose team actually lost its opening round game to New Orleans.

 “And for us, this is our biggest tournament of the year.”

So, keep your heads held high, Mathews-Dickey. We look forward to seeing you in the World Series next season. And be like Chicago, and qualify a Senior Division baseball team too.

Ezekiel is a trip

A year ago, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott supported owner Jerry Jones after the team threatened to cut any player that took a knee or demonstrated during the national anthem. Jones said “toe on the line,” and Elliott dutifully told the press “we're the Dallas Football Cowboys, America's Team. We stand for the national anthem.”

A year later, Jones doesn’t know if Elliott is standing or sitting because he’s in Mexico during a holdout that is nearing its third week.

When Elliott was facing a lengthy suspension two years ago, Jones provided legal assistance in his battle against the NFL and an accuser who said he physically abused her.

He was suspended six games and Jones led a revolt against Commissioner Roger Goodell. He failed to land enough votes to oust Goodell, but he made it clear he was not happy.

His payback has been Elliott’s hold out before the fourth year of his five-year deal. Elliott wants Todd Gurley money. The Cowboys, so far, have said no.

Now, let’s put ourselves in Jones’ very expensive shoes.

In January, Elliott and his representatives reportedly told the Cowboys that he would not play in 2019 if he did not receive a hefty raise and contract extension.

To his credit, Elliott took part in all voluntary and mandatory offseason team activities.

However, after threatening to skip the season Elliott found himself in trouble again after arguing with a woman and bumping a security guard in Las Vegas this summer. The events were captured on a cell phone and went viral within hours.

He looked like he had been drinking and threw another embarrassment on America’s Team.

The incident was enough for Goodell to order Elliott to his New York office. He escaped another suspension, but received yet another stern warning from the commissioner.

Jones has got to be thinking, “why should I make him the highest paid running back in the NFL when he keeps getting in trouble?”

It’s a fair question. It’s one I would be asking Elliott and his people behind the scenes daily during this holdout.

The Reid Roundup

Gymnast Simone Biles made history as the first woman to land a clean triple-double – two flips and three twists in the air – in her floor routine last Sunday during the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City. Only two men have ever accomplished the move. Biles won her record-tying sixth United States Gymnastics national championship … Back spasms forced Serena Williams to abandon her championship match at last week’s Rogers Open last week and her chance to win an elusive record 24th Grand Slam title at the upcoming U.S. Open seem slim … Williams topped FORBES list of the highest paid women in sports for the fourth straight year after earning $29.2 million in the 12-month period ending June 1 … Tiger Woods’ mild oblique strain kept him out of the Northern Trust last week. He’s scheduled to play in the BMW Championship this weekend in what could be his final tournament of the year … Kudos to the Detroit Tigers to devoting an entire weekend of activities to former Negro League players and Negro League baseball during a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

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.” Find him on Twitter at @aareid1.

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