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George Floyd - Sport, Race and Opportunity?


Today marks the first anniversary of the George Floyd killing and the resulting global response to a racial inequality that shook the world. In the past 12 months there has been social, cultural, economic, and political debate, discussion, and dialogue primarily in the USA and the UK with global activism continuing to mark an historic moment in time that has since highlighted all issues of inequality irrespective of race, creed, colour, belief, or identity.

Some of the most powerful statements of expressed challenge have come from our young citizens who are now awake to the rights and responsibilities that they no longer wish to be handed to them but rather see an active role and part where change is made in the institutions and systemic cultures that exist. Many pledges, promises and platitudes have been made from Governments and above all the corporate entities that have recognised that racial equality – not diversity is good business. The business of sport as a powerful influencer and vehicle for change that has never been seismically felt. America’s sportsmen and women not only took to the knee but stood up in solidarity and brought about global awareness and changes in legislation, policies and above all resources both human and financial.

Their awakening was reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s where civil rights was characterised and symbolised by John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Muhammad Ali, Althea Gibson and other sporting and artistic greats who not only reflected the African American, but the global Diaspora as well. LeBron James, Naomi Osaka and Colin Kaepernick represent a new generation that is matched by their UK equivalents in Lewis Hamilton, Marcus Rashford and Dina Asher Smith who are all quietly making independent stands in the growing need for providing an equal transatlantic impact of sportsmen and women who have taken the knee but now need to stand up and make a similar impactful difference.

The Black Lives Matter movement has also inspired global activism where all inequality issues are now populist in their ability to see ‘people power’ felt by those in the 'position of power'.

In whatever event, a global plan of Sport for Development and Peace activism is required with the Centre for Sport and Human Rights providing the ethical and moral compass that can give hope and opportunity in realising a global ‘Call2Action’ and a ‘LegacyOpportunity4All’ that will see the bidding, hosting and legacy of major games provide platforms to hold the sporting eco-system to account and ensure that the streets that provide so much to those who take great enjoyment from watching, being inspired and motivated by their achievements also see the benefits of their labour.

George Floyd showed great potential as a sportsman, Dalian Atkinson had already finished his playing career when his life was also taken by the police in such a brutal manner. The racial inequalities that also lead to Black Lives taking Black Lives whilst so young must now also challenge the moral and ethical conscience of every single one of us that reflect on this day. Too many lives lost, too many lives being taken, too many lives being disadvantaged. Sport will and must continue to be a social vehicle for change and breathe life into young people's gifts, talent and potential to provide hope and opportunity for all.

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