It’s time to act

A girl, no older than seven, walked in front of me down the streets of San Francisco.

Supplied with a pink umbrella and rain boots, she was far more prepared than I was for the weather that that Saturday evening provided. And as we marched and the words protesting the newly inaugurated President filled the night sky, there was an unmistakable feeling of unity.

She couldn’t have fully understood what the chants meant, and she was surely not enjoying the unrelenting rain that was pelting the thousands of people on the San Francisco streets. But her presence made me realize just how crucial participating is.

The Women’s March wasn’t just important because I was out there fighting for my rights. It was important because I was fighting for hers and those of the the millions of people in this country who experience hardships I will never truly understand, and whose lives are in jeopardy of becoming harder at an alarming rate.

On Saturday, I attended the Women’s March in San Francisco. On Saturday, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Detroit Lions players DeAndre Levy and Johnson Bademosi attended the march in Washington D.C. And on Saturday, Lebron James tweeted about the marches occurring all over the world.

Sure, James’ tweet and the roughly 8,400 retweets it received were nice to see. But that’s about it. It doesn’t do enough. He can’t understand what it felt like to be out there by putting a hashtag in front of something. I know, he had a game that night. But it’s an example. An example of an athlete who is being paid millions of dollars to play basketball and has a history of making his opinion known on social issues.

While his tweet made somewhat of an impact, he can’t understand what it was like to be there. It was a feeling I can’t put into words quite correctly. As we are entering a time of uncertainty, many people are fearing for the safety and security of the themselves and the people around them. Instagrams, tweets and Facebook posts aren’t enough anymore. We need the people who are in the public light to embrace the role they have been given and make a stand.

I don’t think the Women’s March is enough to solve the problems we are dealing with by any stretch of the imagination. But it was, quite literally, a step in the right direction. A beginning that can hopefully be continued into the coming months — not just something we put on Instagram or tell our friends about.

Thousands of pictures were posted by people who actually attended these marches, and countless more were shared by people who observed from afar. Colin Kaepernick, someone who has become better known for his protesting than his mediocre-at-best play on the field, simply posted an Instagram of a picture that was taken by the Lower East Side Girls Club New York.

I don’t get it. These marches occurred all over the country. Go out. Experience the protesting for yourself. Don’t post a picture taken by someone who actually participated. That’s not going to do anything.

I shouldn’t have to dig to find examples of athletes that attended, yet the lists of tweets that were fired off by different athletes across sports pop up on almost every news website.

The truly great athletes are thought of in a higher class for doing more than just being successful athletically. We remember Muhammad Ali for more than what he did in the boxing ring. Instead, we think of his activism and how he stood for something he believed in. Finding that strength despite the possible repercussions is exactly what we need right now. We need open discussions and participation.

Recently, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich came out with comments about the Women’s March and how he thinks it was important, saying, “The march today was great. That message is important, and it could have been a whole lot of groups marching. … And I just wish that (Trump) was more — had the ability to be more — mature enough to do something that really is inclusive, rather than just talking and saying, ‘I’m going to include everybody.’ ” He said this the same day that James sent out a singular tweet. This message means so much more.

Popovich, alongside Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, has been vocal since the election of President Trump. We need more people like these two men to speak up. The more that the current political issues are freely discussed, the more that people will be willing to have conversations about those issues. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have refused to delve into their seeming connection and friendship with Trump. Not having conversations won’t help. That’s how we got into this mess. It’s so frustrating that there aren’t more athletes getting themselves involved.

So it’s up to you, the professional male athletes that get paid to perform on the field. Do something. You have been given a platform, so you better take advantage. Because if a young girl is capable of walking down the streets of San Francisco in the pouring rain, you have no excuse not to be out there fighting for her future freedoms.

As we’ve seen, anyone can fire off a tweet. Get out from behind your phones and computer. It’s time to make a difference.

Contact Alaina Getzenberg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg.