The Players’ Tribune provides athletes with a new way to make change on injustices

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” -Mahatma Gandhi

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Courtesy of Gracie Watt / Hilltop Views Remix

There’s more to an athlete than their skill and fame. It’s more than just about shooting hoops, kicking goals, sliding into home and victory huddles at the end of a game. At the end of the day, they return to their families and pets and watch the same heartbreaking news like us. Maybe their lives seem glamorous on the court, the field or in the ring, but by reading one testimony from The Players’ Tribune, you’ll begin to recognize the hardships athletes face are much like those of everyday people; sometimes even harder. Founded by former Yankee Derek Jeter, The Players’ Tribune is a media platform that allows professional athletes to spark sports conversations and tell first-person stories.

WNBA forward for the Phoenix Mercury Devereaux Peters shared her personal story after the murder of George Floyd. When she was in college, she drove home from Notre Dame to Chicago and was pulled over and intensely questioned for not having a front license plate. She recalls telling her father, an attorney, about how furious she was as well as his response: “This is just what you’re going to have to deal with being a Black person in America.” 

Professional athletes speak out about the social inequalities in their careers everyday, but we often forget some of the athletes face even more as Black women. They are not only facing inequalities in terms of pay, but as a Black person, prepared to face racism in every form. 

Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson shared a letter on the site titled Dear Black Girls. It is the sad truth all girls young and old need to hear when living in this kind of America — a racist one. Wilson lets these girls know their hair is beautiful, no matter what style they wore it, and that the apostrophe in their name makes them wonderful. In addition, her piece reiterates the hurtful words every little Black girl hears. “You’re not just a girl. You’re a Black girl. And some people don’t like you because of that.” As untrue as this statement is, it is still a statement out of the mouths of ignorant people everywhere. 

Wilson’s testimony is not to encourage Black girls that they could be huge athletes, or that they could one day be a VP candidate. For now, it is to tell them that can simply be. Something that white supremacists, racists and even those who utter small microaggressions when a Black woman raises her voice and calls her “angry” don’t want. Wilson shows all girls of color that with persistence and self respect, they too can be heard. 

After the countless murders of Black people in America, Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery decided to take a huge step in a different direction. While there are many ways to not only support but be the movement, Montgomery announced on June 18 that she would be taking a break from the game. “There’s no right answer for any of this. When people are trying to make change, you can go about it many different ways,” Montogmery said in a response to opting out of using her platform for change. Instead, she will be the “player who wants to sit out and be hands-on and be in [her] community.” After multiple phone calls with her mother – “her snooky” – about how she watched riots from outside her window, she turned her outrage into change. Montgomery hopes to be back soon. In fact, she said, “don’t think I won’t be back,” but is taking this stand “so that we don’t have another hashtag.”

The Players’ Tribune is not only showing fans their everyday reality, but making change and building relationships throughout it all.