When it means more than football: The Miami Dolphins take pause, recognize injustice, and take action

The Dolphins poor play last Sunday pales in comparison to injustices facing this nation

There has been a lot to digest and a lot to consider when putting together a post like this. For one, as a Dolphins fan, I absolutely enjoy seeing touchdowns on offense and a 3rd down sack as much as any fan. However, When I tuck my three kids into bed at night I look at their wonderful brown eyes and brownish skin and I pray that they don’t face injustices in their lives, but it’s highly possible that they will, because our world can be a cruel place.

When looking at the injustices in this country one cannot help but admit that clearly our society seems bankrupt of love and compassion.

As a Miami Dolphins fan, last season, we as fans got a glimpse of protests of injustice week one in Seattle as well in other cities. From Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid’s initial silent protest-sitting and then kneeling during the anthem to clenched fists in the air by other NFL stars-not to mention Brandon Marshall’s opening night 2016 kneel in solidarity with Kaepernick and his cause; players started become outwardly active with conviction at the risk of endorsement deals and public appearances.

On that Sunday, As the Seahawks stood arm in arm and the Dolphins players stood except for a few brave individuals-Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, Arian Foster, and Jelani Jenkins kneeled.

The Dolphins lost 10-6, but what some fans could remember instead of the final score were the social media and message boards and how it seemed the Dolphins players who knelt-had visibly disrespected and disgraced the Dolphins and veterans of the armed forces.

There were even Dolphins fans that vowed to boycott the Dolphins franchise and blamed owner Stephen Ross for allowing players on the football team to not only kneel, but disrespect the American flag.

Said Stephen Ross after that first week: “I don’t think there was any lack of respect,” Ross said in September. “Everyone in this team and whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for. These guys are making a conversation about something that’s very important topic in this country. I’m 100 percent in support of them.”

The hot topic that very week was that the owner decided to chime in and do something about injustice and shined a light on his current community initiative-RISE (Ross Initiative for Sports in Equality) which allowed Dolphins players an avenue to reach kids and set a positive example for them as they approached and navigated the negative aspects of their neighborhoods and community. The focus of the RISE initiative is to empower and “harness the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”

Instead of separating, these Dolphins players, employees, and staff became one and they learned to work together for the greater good in the communities near where they play in Miami. They joined other educators and coaches in and around the greater Miami area to be active and bring out about social change.

The Dolphins as well as other franchises have made last year’s silent protest about the community and the people they have been called to serve.

Just this past summer, I had a chance to witness the community efforts employed by the Dolphins and their community relations staff. In speaking with a few coaches and parents, the Dolphins on that day during training camp provided tickets to camp and free autographs not only to the group of Pop Warner football players from Kendall, but to all fans.

Football as an entity and has a sport has an amazing power to unite.

In spite of what we’ve seen as fans, we all need to listen and then decide for ourselves which world we want to live in and which one we want to provide for our children in his country.

This past week, under pressure from various fronts and factions, the President of the United States-Donald Trump called out these same players who have protested in the past and ordered them fired if they didn’t stand for the anthem. Not only did he order NFL owners to fire players who didn’t stand, he used derogatory language that called into question his ability to show empathy and compassion by calling players who protest -SOBs.

On Saturday, NFL teams were scrambling and in meetings instead of fine tuning their game plans. Some teams, like the Dolphins met as a franchise and worked to figure out how and when they would send a message of unity and solidarity for those affected by the president’s message and for young black men who have been unjustly harmed.

The result was a wonderful display by most NFL franchises-seeing these same franchises run by billionaire owners work in unison and solidarity to confront the hatred displayed by president Trump. Owners on most NFL teams chose to take their own stand and unite by standing arm and arm with their teams.

While Saturday seemed to churn the usual flow of injury reports and fantasy football predictions across social media, NFL team owners began issuing statements that sounded more like they understood that their players-all players were disrespected as well as the work and relationships forged in their cities and communities.

Then came Sunday. As a Dolphins fan, to see Stephen Ross, the man who has given anything and everything to the Dolphins fan base and community, was there arm and arm with players in solidarity and supporting their cause and their struggle.

Four Dolphins players chose to kneel and my hope is that their call to protest silently and reverently serves as a constant example of prayer and silence for all the African Americans who have lost their lives due to the police as well as they countless Americans that face racial injustice in the United States.

This is why they kneel.

Racial Injustice is real. It’s been real for several centuries.

It’s time to recognize that the best answer is love and compassion and the one word that comes to mind for all people is listening to each other.

Through listening we can understand.

Whether we are NFL fans or fans of the Dolphins, know this, football while important is not as important as the well-being of people in the communities where our favorite NFL teams play.

All players are committed to bettering their communities and last week was the first step in uniting the NFL and bringing about change while it will take time, players in the NFL are committed to uniting.

Through unity comes change.

As a Dolphins fan, I look at the message Stephen Ross said to Michael Thomas last season-“I saw Mr. Ross come in the locker room. I’m going up to him, trying to explain to him in a way, letting him know, like, ‘Look, we’re thinking about doing this, thinking about taking a knee,’ ” Thomas said. “And for him to stop me and say, ‘Look, Mike, whatever y’all choose to do today, I’ve got y’all’s back 100 percent’

That’s the owner you want backing you as a player. That’s what the Dolphins are all about.

No matter what happens on the field, the Dolphins clearly want to be leaders for others off of it and in their community.

Photo credit-NBC Miami

Information from Risetowin.org and quotations in Jordan Heck’s article of the Sporting News (“Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Supported Players Choice to Kneel for Anthem:” April 4,2017) was used for this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s