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50 years after the March on Washington, sports can still set the example for society

The Martin Luther King, Jr sculpture is Getty Images

Fifty years ago today, I wasn’t alive.  I’ll be able to say that for another 21 months or so.

Millions of us, and most of you, weren’t alive, either.  So it’s important to reflect on the significance of the speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963 in Washington.

If you’ve never seen it, click the button below.  While watching it, consider the role sports has played in leading society toward the goal Dr. King established.  While there was a time when baseball and football (and, in turn, most of society) demonstrated blatant racial bias, sports teams have embraced (sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly) the concept of individual merit over personal characteristics like skin color and national origin.

It has provided a strong example for the rest of America, which has made plenty of progress toward the realization of Dr. King’s dream that decisions will be made about people based on what they can do and who they are, not what they look like or other factors irrelevant to ability or character — good, bad, or otherwise.

The sports world still has plenty of leading to do, whether in the area of sexual orientation or religious practices and other beliefs that deviate from the mainstream.  Here’s hoping that it happens, sooner than later.  For the same reason that concussion sensitivity and pink gloves and shoes worn during the month of October influence lower levels of football, the examples set by pro sports can resonate far beyond the stadiums and arenas in which the games are played.

In many respects, sports have helped move the dream toward coming true.  But more can still be done, and sports can continue to blaze the paths that will wind through all workplaces and communities.

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22 Responses to “50 years after the March on Washington, sports can still set the example for society”
  1. therolandobottom says: Aug 28, 2013 9:34 AM

    So lets give thanks to Mr. Al Davis who hired the first Hispanic coach, Black coach, and the first female CEO. #RaiderNation

  2. oakfolk says: Aug 28, 2013 9:35 AM

    This post will surely yield some ignant comments. #Proceed

  3. romosmicrodongs says: Aug 28, 2013 9:37 AM

    if mlk were alive he’d say the redskins should be the everyskins – m. florio

  4. logicailvoicesays says: Aug 28, 2013 9:37 AM

    When I see that incredibly moving speech, it reminds of how even thought RG3 is the greatest player in NFL history, it is his post-football career as a world leader that will be even more important for humanity.

  5. germanstingray says: Aug 28, 2013 9:42 AM

    A great man. The wacko who shot him sent race relations down a worsening path that haunts our society to this day.

  6. floratiotime says: Aug 28, 2013 9:51 AM

    And the last team to desegregate … not allowing black players till 1962 … was … drum roll … wait for it …. yes, the Washington R-words.

  7. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: Aug 28, 2013 10:09 AM

    If you listen to that speech and then listen to the things people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson say now, you’ll see that they’re nearly polar opposites. Dr. King was about treating everyone according to who they are, but these days it seems like the most important thing about you is your skin color.

  8. multiplemiggs says: Aug 28, 2013 10:22 AM

    More can still be done??? The President is black for christ sakes!! How much more do you want? A white guy cant even get a civil service job anymore! Is that fair? Payback? I have to pay for something I had nothing to do with??? Black people have it made and more can still be done? Lol unless you want white people to serve a couple hundred years of slavery i cant see how much more you need! This country is a disgrace.

  9. godofwine330 says: Aug 28, 2013 10:27 AM

    We have come far in America, but we still have far to go. The disconnect still comes with focusing on the differences which are few instead of the similarities which are many. We’re brothers here, even the ones we don’t get along with. We have to live in this world together, so let’s do more than say, “Let’s get along,” and put some action behind it.

    People of all colors are more alike according to their economic class level. Upper class folks act, think, and behave alike, middle-class folks mostly act, think, and behave alike and on down the line. We want the same for our kids, have similar dreams and for the most part work side by side.

    Stop believing the stereotypes as fact for every member of another race. Get to know some and you will be surprised that outside of music and food (some of the most notable differences) we are very much the same.

  10. jimmyt says: Aug 28, 2013 10:30 AM

    Unfortunately there are far too many pretenders in government and media with their own agenda’s that could otherwise care less about race relations, equality and tolerance. Sports and the Arts (music in particular) have played a major roll but those with their agendas are overpowering and have far too many sheep that follow them.

  11. dannyabramowitz says: Aug 28, 2013 10:34 AM

    So you want sports to advance liberalism social causes. Newsflash, most of the sports audience supports traditional values. How about sports being about sports.

  12. floratiotime says: Aug 28, 2013 10:55 AM

    “This post will surely yield some ignant comments. #Proceed”

    Yep. Ignant and stoopid ones.

  13. cjjones5656 says: Aug 28, 2013 10:57 AM

    Without Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and NAACP , I really don’t think there would be as much racism as some may think. Quick! when was the last time you saw with your own two eyes someone treated differently because of their color?

  14. dcapettini says: Aug 28, 2013 11:24 AM

    When will an NFL team have the first White Cornerback in modern football history? Surely there is one deserving corner out there. Unless, of course Blacks have some genetic advantage…

  15. determineflksmakeit says: Aug 28, 2013 11:26 AM

    cjjones5656 says:
    Aug 28, 2013 10:57 AM

    Without Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and NAACP , I really don’t think there would be as much racism as some may think. Quick! when was the last time you saw with your own two eyes someone treated differently because of their color?

    _____________________

    So let me get this right…You are justifying a whole nation of racial views just because of two people and ONE organization that the majority of blacks are not registered with? Yes. That makes complete sense. So the KKK, Black Panthers, Jim Crow descendants…etc. etc. You know what never mind….

    Mike – Sports needs to continue to influence as you have mentioned solely for cjjones5656 and his personal view. Once it changes his view…racism will probably vanish.

  16. raider8er says: Aug 28, 2013 11:34 AM

    Great post. Thanks, Florio. MLK!!

  17. dalcow4 says: Aug 28, 2013 12:18 PM

    The memory of MLK has become merely someone people use to further their own agenda.

    He was a Christian minister who called for a color blind society and people act as if he would be for racial quotas and gay “marriage”.

    Free MLK from the tyranny of politically correct groupthink!

  18. floriousestherword says: Aug 28, 2013 2:12 PM

    Discontinued use of the R word would help.

  19. 4ever9er says: Aug 28, 2013 3:28 PM

    @multiplemiggs says: Aug 28, 2013 10:22 AM

    More can still be done??? The President is black for christ sakes!! How much more do you want? A white guy cant even get a civil service job anymore! Is that fair? Payback? I have to pay for something I had nothing to do with??? Black people have it made and more can still be done? Lol unless you want white people to serve a couple hundred years of slavery i cant see how much more you need! This country is a disgrace.
    ———————————————————-
    Just by the mere fact that you think because there is a Black President that Black people have it made tells me that for sure there is work to be done.
    MLK spoke about a number of issues, for instance he spoke about poverty, I’m sure you realize that poverty doesn’t care what color you are, what religion you are or what political party you belong to. We have a justice system that sentences people based on race, age, economic status differently, do you think that it’s fair to sentence people convicted of the same crime differently? Also MLK wasn’t just talking about Blacks you must realize that other minorities are also included. I think I’m more surprised that there isn’t a poor people’s uprising. I guess if the powers that be (Media and the Rich) can keep the poor people at each others throats they can keep this nonsense going for another 150 years.
    Seriously why would poor whites fight in the Civil War? The majority of white southerners didn’t own slaves, so what were they really fighting for, yep that’s right, for the right of the Rich southerners to continue to have slaves.
    Didn’t mean for this to turn into a rant!

  20. 4ever9er says: Aug 28, 2013 3:33 PM

    @cjjones5656 says:
    Aug 28, 2013 10:57 AM

    Without Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and NAACP , I really don’t think there would be as much racism as some may think. Quick! when was the last time you saw with your own two eyes someone treated differently because of their color?
    Go to any court in America and you will see plenty of it (it’s not just Blacks, the same goes for Hispanics, Asians and the poor whites). That group that you mentioned doesn’t speak for everyone just like I’m sure that the KKK or Arian Brotherhood doesn’t speak for you!

  21. hatesycophants says: Aug 28, 2013 8:49 PM

    All the usual suspects spewing idiocy. Hilariously so, but idiocy just the same.

  22. 4thputt says: Aug 28, 2013 11:11 PM

    I was alive 50 years ago and remember MLK Jr.’s speech very well . . . it is appropriate today as it was back then. However, a picture of his likeness on Mount Rushmore is inappropriate.

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