I don’t know that we are ever going to drift back into a world in which ‘sports is just sports’. Or perhaps more accurately said, I don’t know if we will ever be able to return to a time in which we are able to entirely separate sports from the rest of the world around us, which to so many has been one of its greatest assets.
The year 2020 has marked a hardline shift in the willingness of professional athletes to stand up and use their platforms as celebrities to hold a public position and seek to enact change in society in the areas in which they believe change is necessary.
The prevailing issue, particularly in the NFL since Colin Kaepernick began protesting on the sidelines several years ago, has been surrounding police brutality and injustice against black people and minorities in general.
Just earlier today, we witnessed perhaps the most powerful display of player solidarity yet, with the Milwaukee Bucks boycott Game 5 of their NBA playoff series, with reports indicating that other teams intend to do the same. This is in response to a near-fatal shooting of another unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin days ago, and following a night in which a 17-year old citizen’s militia member from out of state shot and killed multiple protesters in Kenosha.
This is the backdrop against which Colbert addressed the media earlier today, and he was asked about how the Steelers as an organization are handling these discussions internally and how they might respond. The Detroit Lions suspended practice yesterday.
“Anything that occurs in the social justice, social climate world, obviously, the Pittsburgh Steelers are aware of”, Colbert said. “The Pittsburgh Steelers always will talk about those types of issues in-house. Mr. Rooney has talked about how we deal with things. Coach Tomlin has dealt with and made statements about his take on things like this. And those will always be discussed internally, and then ultimately, Art would give any directive, if he is to. We’re always aware of what’s going on in the world, and we’re always going to discuss those issues”.
After making this comment early on, Colbert voluntarily revisited it much later in the interview in order to give further clarification about what he meant when referring to a hypothetical ‘directive’ from the president of the team.
“As an organization, we will come to an understanding of the current situation, and again, Mr. Rooney, I wouldn’t like to say a ‘directive’ from him, but the suggested behavior of how the organization would address it”, he said. “But that would be upon recommendations from not only myself, Coach Tomlin, the players, and of course the Rooneys”.
The Steelers happen to have a scheduled off day today, which is probably fortunate under the circumstances. Our country has been under great internal duress for I can’t even say how long at this point, but 2020 has really felt like a pressure cooker in terms of the growing unrest and animosity and divisiveness in which we find ourselves. In which every action or inaction is magnified.