It’s Time To Stop Interviewing Mike Ditka
10 Oct, 2017
While speaking to Jim Gray before Monday Night Football, the former tight end and coach was asked about players protesting before and during the national anthem, as well as Vice President Mike Pence walking out of a Colts game. He responded by saying players had to “respect the game, play the game” and that football has been so good to him and these players.
Then, Gray asked, “For those who want social justice and for those who look back at the lives of Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens and John Carlos and Tommy Smith, your response would be?”
“I don’t know what social injustices [there] have been. Muhammad Ali rose to the top, Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived. Are you talking that everything is based on color? I don’t see it that way. I think you have to be color blind in this country. You have to look at a person for what he is and what he stands for and how he produces, not by the color of his skin. That has never had anything to do with anything.
“But, all of a sudden, it has become a big deal now, about oppression. There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody – race, religion, creed, color, nationality. If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort in, I think you can accomplish anything, and we have watched that throughout our history of our country.”
The answer is, yes, Mike: You absolutely haven’t been watching as carefully. Somehow, he missed women fighting to finally get the right to vote in 1920, nearly 100 years ago. Or the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to fight segregation and discrimination. Or countless other moments in which people of all genders, races, sexual orientations and economic statuses fought for equality.
With a statement like that, Ditka ignorance shows. He’s missing the point of these protests because he just doesn’t understand that there are people who still suffer due to social injustice and oppression around them, and that the best way to get the message across is for these athletes who have the stage of professional sports to spread it.
The reason that there is “an opportunity,” as he opined, for some to succeed is because of those very same fights for justice and equality. But what he’s missing is there’s so much more work to be done.
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