LA84 Conference on Athlete Activism and Social Justice
Brooke C. ('21)
Brooke C. ('21) is a member of the Vistamar Sports Network (VSN). She attended the LA84 Foundation's summit on Athlete Activism and Social Justice. Last year, she wrote about a similar experience with LA84 as they discussed women in sports. Students from the VSN class will perodically write articles for the athletic page on VistamarSchool.org.
In the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos finished 1st and 3rd in the 200 meter race. With the world watching, they stepped onto the medal podium without shoes and raised their fists in protest during the national anthem. They used that moment in sports to be a part of change in the world.
Recently, the LA84 Foundation held a summit on Athlete Activism and Social Justice. The conversation was about taking action for our youth and using sports to foster change in the world. Professional and Olympic athletes such as Tony Dungy (Pro Football Hall of Famer and Coach), Ibtihaj Muhammad (U.S. Olympic Fencing Medalist), Greg Louganis (Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist in Diving), and James Blake (Davis Cup Champion), spoke about the legacy of the 1968 Olympic Games and its impact today.
They all use their voices to raise issues about equal opportunities in sports and not being treated differently because of race or gender. Each person spoke about the need for athletes and coaches to do more than just play their sport. Community and foundation leaders also discussed play equity as a social justice issue for our youth. Kids in many areas of Los Angeles need more access to sports, which can improve the mental and physical health and teach many life skills.
As a student ambassador for LA84 Foundation, I serve on an advisory board, offering guidance about grants, programs and activities. I was asked what “play for all” means to me. To me it means that all those who want to play or try a sport should have an equal opportunity as those who already do. Not everyone has the same opportunities to play sports, which can bring people together and give people hope.
Renata Simril, president and CEO of LA84 Foundation gave student athletes a call to action when she said, “Life is not a sprint, not a marathon but a relay race”. The movement that started with the 1968 Olympics can be passed on.
Find ways to be more than just an athlete; be a part of change in the world. Their silent protest still inspires people today, and still has a huge impact on sports today.