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.