Malcolm Smith has had enough of the “bigotry in American sports.”
Last week, after Missouri’s Michael Sam revealed that he is gay, Smith took to Twitter to voice his opinion:
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.
— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
But Smith wasn’t just talking about Sam. According to Todd Dybas at The News Tribune, he was also talking about Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin and Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart among many other things.
“[The tweet] was about the fact the Redskins’ name is what it is; the fact that Jonathan Martin doesn’t feel comfortable; the fact that Marcus Smart is being called names on the sideline,” Smith said.
Smart made headlines last week for pushing a fan that allegedly called him a racial slur. Smart received a three-game suspension for his actions, but if he was called something racial, why did no one stand up for him? And why was he called something racial in the first place?
Where was the courage? The same can be said about the Jonathan Martin incident.
Martin is at the center of a bullying investigation in which he was the victim of harassment by at least three individuals.
CBSNews reported that the harassers “threatened to rape [Martin's] sister, called him a long list of slurs and bullied him for not being ‘black enough.’”
Martin left the Dolphins last October because the harassment grew to be unbearable. Though many knew he was bullied, few — if anyone — stood up to defend him.
That is where Smith believes courage needs to change things.
“We need to face things head-on and be a little bit more responsible about the way we see things,” he said.
Athletes and other personnel in sports must stand up for what is right.
The treatment of Sam by the NFL may be a huge test, but Smith will be rooting for him.
“Beyond the way people feel about it, how teammates will accept him, the fact is he’s a good player. He deserves his opportunity to play in the NFL. Everything else is secondary.”
Will other players and teams feel the same way? We will find out in May.