>ESPYs – Arthur Ashe Award

>so the ESPYs are something i find somewhat interesting and unfair at the same time. kind of like the Grammys – it jsut seems unfair to compare athletes of different sports to one another and say that one is better than the other. typically i watch it so that i can 1) find out what remarkable athletes i missed out on in the past year 2) discover new hilarious athletes that i can become a fan of and 3) check out serena williams’s and fine fashion sense.

however. this year i watched for only one reason: lebron james was cohosting.

turns out – he’s not very funny when his lines are rehearsed.
plus he’s a horrible vocalist.
but wise lebron still knows whats up.

however, i was blown away with this years ESPYs thanks to probably the coolest story/challenge combo i’ve ever witnessed on tv…perhaps next to invisible children…but really incredible to hear just the same.

The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage was awarded this year to individuals who displayed courage in the name of sports. Trevor Ringland and Dave Cullen are from Northern Ireland. For years their community has been divided – literally – by a street in the middle of the city where riots occur much too frequently. They’ve grown up in a world of hate and turmoil between Protestants and Catholics both despising the other their beliefs. (i’m going to ignore the obvious religious issue i have with this situation and move on to what i’d actually like to address***).

These two studs have created an organization called “Peace Players”. It is a program where kids from BOTH sides of the street can come and play together away from the segregation and hatred. This, they (along with me) believe, may have the potential of slowly but effectively bringing a sense of peace to Northern Ireland in the coming years. The men come from opposite sides of the street and have met with schools, parents, government officials and more time and time again in order to persuade them to allow this organization to stand. They have brought hundreds of kids together and taught them not only about basketball, but also life lessons about love and kindness and equality.

anyway. the 10 minute documentary it showed on it during the ESPYs nearly brought tears to my eyes – but it was not nearly as cool as the challenge issued by Trevor during his acceptance speech. He said thank you and then looked down at all the athletes in the auditorium – the best athletes there are – and told them essentially that they “were role models for all the kids in the world, and as such, they have a responsibility for their actions.”

i’ve been waiting for someone to say that to the athletes of this country for years. granted this is not all athletes – heck, even Ron Artest surprised me this week with his efforts in kenya – but there was a man in the audience at the ESPYs named Terrell Owens who, if he saw and heard the same thing i did, might have felt some slight pangs of guilt. And i’m not only pointing fingers at TO – i’m pointing fingers at Tank Johnson, Dominic Jones, Michael Vick, even my man out of Iowa State Jamaal Tinsley.

and that is just in the last couple of weeks. these things happen on a near-daily basis. and frankly, it pisses me off.

how many kids ever played with a football outside as Jerry Rice and Joe Montana. or played baseball as Nolan Ryan or Ken Griffey Jr. or played basketball as MJ…and then the other kid had to be Pippen or Rodman. I want to be like Mike. it was a freaking advert! granted, no one really wanted to be like Rodman – which is why the dorky kid you were friends with always got stuck with him…unless there was a bully or a kid with a nose ring/pink hair. but even Mike isn’t a great role model – but thats besides the point.

the poing is: kids are no different today. they’re still kids. they have people they want to be like and the first place most of them turn when they realize their parents are boring is to sports. players have an obligation as role models to lead by example. i feel like many are failing and i’m thrilled that Dave and Trevor addressed it.

anyone can make a difference – even two religiously diverse middle-aged men from a terror-stricken Northern Ireland – and it’s an absolute crime that such obvious difference makers can’t do the same.

so to the Peace Players in Europe –

praise-alluia to ya.


*** turns out – my brother doubledizz actually has addressed thoughts on this subject on his page – here are his (and many of my) thoughts.

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