While those who came out against Colin Kaepernick’s protest four years ago were showing their ass at the time, the past few days have certainly illustrated just how wrong they were. Still, part of moving forward is not just ignoring the past, but admitting failures and using that to be better in the future. There hasn’t been a lot of that of late, but count USA women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield as one who has.
While the past few days have seen a bevy of players, and a lot from the world of hockey, show their compassion and wish to do better, this is a rare apology along with a promise. Sports certainly has a lot to reckon with what it’s done in the past, and simply trying to pretend it didn’t happen will stain whatever efforts and especially words they make in the future. Contrast this with the Pittsburgh Penguins simply scrubbing the picture of their Blue Lives Matter night from 2018 off their Twitter feed this past weekend. Coyne Schofield shouldn’t be the last to own up to mistakes in the past to be a better voice and ally in the future.
Contrast that with Drew Brees today, and you get a clear illustration of just how much farther sports have to go. It’s truly galling from Brees, who should have gotten a defining look at institutional racism during his massive efforts to help rebuild New Orleans after Katrina or more recently how blacks in Louisiana have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Whatever Brees thinks the flag stands for, the ways in which the country has failed to live up to that can’t be much clearer than right now. The list of people the flag, or what it stands for in the mind of Brees, has disrespected certainly includes some of his teammates and colleagues in the league.
Even Brees’s attempts to wrap himself in the service of his grandfathers rings hollow, because it would be very easy to point out that those men didn’t fight so American citizens could be killed by police or be tear-gassed for merely exercising their rights. Let’s look for Brees to be walking these back sometime soon, although to do so under public pressure would lessen the meaning just a touch.