Crain’s editorial: More than a game – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Posted By on August 31, 2020

"We are not just a polarized society. We are increasingly a confrontational society."

That's how Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, described the state of the country to The Washington Post, and regardless of where you fit on the political spectrum, that feels accurate.

A summer that started with protests, riots and violence in the wake of the George Floyd killing is coming to an end with more unrest after police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wis. This time, the protests extended into the big-money world of professional sports, most prominently the NBA, which postponed playoff games as players staged wildcat strikes to call attention to racial injustices.

The country needs efforts to unite its citizens those who are lawfully and peacefully protesting and have deeply held concerns about social issues, and those who are rightly concerned about the looting and vandalism hurting our cities and curtailing economic opportunity. There doesn't have to be an unbridgeable chasm for people of good will.

One promising effort is coming from Cleveland, where the Cavaliers, Browns and Indians announced the formation of an alliance "to develop a sustainable and direct strategy to address social injustice facing the city of Cleveland and all Northeast Ohio communities." The focus will be on "improving the relationship between law enforcement and its citizens, encouraging nonpartisan voting activities and increasing the opportunities for quality education for everyone."

Each team's general manager and head coach will participate, and players will be invited to get involved "to coordinate activities that invoke a call to action and positive outcomes."

It's easy to critique athletes as "spoiled millionaires." But it was moving to listen to many Black players and former players last week as they described the pain they have felt, and continue to feel. It's on all of us to find ways to address social ills without violence. The teams deserve credit for trying.

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Crain's editorial: More than a game - Crain's Cleveland Business

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