Two professional athletes who attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, one in the NFL and one in Major League Baseball, spoke out after the American Nazi march where a fascist murdered Heather Heyer with his car. Both pro jocks had something important to say.
Chris Long—the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end who made the news earlier this year as one of the New England Patriots to boycott the Trump White House visit—said:
I don’t tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn’t political. That’s the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn’t a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you’re on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn’t.
Then there is Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle. If the name rings a bell beyond the field, Doolittle has done nationally recognized charity work alongside his partner, journalist Eirann Dolan. They made national news in November 2015, when Doolittle and Dolan hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago with 17 Syrian refugee families.
Doolittle posted the following message:
So it’s really frustrating that they chose to go there from the outside just to march and spread their hatred. I just found out that somebody died from the car thing today. It’s past the point of hearing what they have to say, spreading this kind of hatred. Saying, ‘You will not replace us.’… You aren’t the ones at the risk of being quote-unquote replaced by some of this administration’s policies. And it’s just white fear. It’s the worst kind of hatred. It’s disgusting.
These statements matter not merely because Long and Doolittle are high-profile athletes with a connection to Charlottesville. It matters because they’re white men. For too long, black athletes—women and men—have carried the burden of speaking out against Trump’s racist agenda. Now, after Charlottesville, people’s heads could be coming out of the sand. We are past the time when white athletes need to share the media slings and arrows and show white fans that to be a white political athlete doesn’t mean you have to be Peyton Manning, playing gold with Trump. There is—believe it or not—a badass tradition of the progressive white athlete and it is past time to see it revived.