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“It’s great that sports are back,” said WNBA’s Sue Bird during the opening of the 2020 ESPY Awards. “But George Floyd won’t be there to see them.”
On Sunday, the annual ESPY Awards were held to honor the achievements of professional athletes. This year’s ceremony was a bit different though, and not just due to coronavirus social distancing. Hosted by Bird, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the ESPY Awards’ began with this segment acknowledging the ongoing conversation regarding racial injustice, and urged players and fans alike to act. Not just in the name of groundbreaking Black sports stars like Jackie Robinson and Serena Williams, but for ordinary people like Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
“Our country’s work is not anywhere close to done. We need justice. We need true leadership. We need a change, and we need it now,” said Wilson, reflecting on his fears as a Black father. “To my white teammates and friends: We need you to lead too. Don’t just listen. Help.”
“For centuries, there have been fights for justice and equality in this country, led by Black people. This movement is no different. But as white people, this is the breaking point. This time we gotta have their backs,” said Rapinoe. “So will it be uncomfortable? Yes. In speaking up when we make mistakes, yes. That cannot stop us from trying.”
“And not just for a few days, or a few IG posts,” continued Bird. “This is our moment to prove that we know a better world is one where Black lives are valued.”