Activism on the field.

AuthorZirin, Dave
PositionEDGE OF SPORTS - Athletes showing support for the police shooting victim Michael Brown

As I write this, the sports world is inspired, and enraged, by five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams. Their grand transgressive action was walking out onto their home field before the start of their Sunday, November 30, game against the Oakland Raiders, and raising their arms in the "hands up don't shoot" pose that has become the international symbol of protests against the police shooting of unarmed Ferguson, Missouri, resident Michael Brown. Debates have raged about whether the playing field is an "appropriate" place for politics or if any of the Rams would in some way be sanctioned by the league.

What the Rams players did is both admirable and worth defending. They brought protest to the field of play and imposed the rallying cry that black lives matter onto a space reserved for escape. By doing so, they incurred the wrath of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. They also inspired the media to take a serious dive into the history of athlete activists, particularly that frozen moment in time when bronze and gold medalists John Carlos and Tommie Smith climbed the medal stand in 1968 and raised their fists in Mexico City.

But when it comes to athletes expressing their solidarity with Ferguson and the family of Michael Brown, the Rams players would do well to give a tip of their helmets to Knox College basketball player Ariyana Smith. Knox is a small college in Galesburg, Illinois. On Saturday, November 29, before a game against Fontbonne in Clayton, Missouri, Ms. Smith made the "hands up don't shoot" gesture during the national anthem before walking toward the American flag. She then went prone on the floor for four and a half minutes, preventing the game from getting underway. Why four and a half minutes?

Because Michael Brown lay in the street for four and a half hours after being killed. According to witnesses, Ariyana was being told to move repeatedly during the four and a half minutes, but refused until the entire period of time was completed.

She then left the building raising her fist in the air with a force that would make Carlos and Smith proud. She later said, "I...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT