On Thursday’s broadcast of “First Take” on ESPN2, guest hosts Freddie Coleman and Bomani Jones reacted to Wednesday’s “ESPY Awards” opening where four NBA stars called for a change in police violence.
Coleman and Jones both acknowledged that it was good of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to give a pro-Black Lives Matter message on such a big stage, but the ESPN personalities both said team owners should also speak out on such issues, although Coleman admitted the white owners are likely glad they do not have to.
“The call of action to the athletes is cool because the athletes are the most visible,” Jones stated. “But, in terms of the grand power scheme and who can actually make things change? The people that cut their checks. What are you going to do to resolve this? Because this idea that black people are supposed to fix the race relations problem in America is absolutely ridiculous because I don’t think anybody can make the argument that black people started it. So, ask athletes what they can do to bring more attention to this issues, certainly, but you’ve got to ask your bosses what attention they’ll give to the issues, too, because people listen to them a lot more than they listen to any of those dudes on that stage.”
Coleman replied, “I think their bosses are glad they don’t have to do that, because their bosses are not black men. Their bosses, the guys that cut their checks, are going to be white men. So, the fact they can have somebody else do that, where they don’t feel they have to do it, they don’t have to speak out on it, to your point, you’re exactly correct. When are we going to hear that? I think the answer is we’re probably never going to hear it unless it affects them and affects their bottom line.”
Jones later added to Coleman’s response that white athletes like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning could spark change if they spoke out on the race issue.
“We’ve been wanting to see change for a very long time. There’s a need for some help on change. I would be curious, not to just hear from them, but what would Tom Brady feel about this? What would Peyton Manning feel about this? What would those guys — because those are the people that if they said something like that, I bet you’d see more people responsive toward something like change. That’s why I’m curious about this. It can’t just be the responsibility of four really good basketball players,” Jones said.
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