Carolyn at And One brought it to my attention that BlogCatalog is asking bloggers to unite today for human rights. Go check out her post with a bunch of links to human rights organizations on the web, including the NBA's organization NBA Cares.
Thinking about the place that sports has in the ongoing conversation about human rights, the focus of late as I see it has been on the upcoming Olympic games in China.
Sean Gregory wrote a great piece earlier this month for Time Magazine on the viability of Olympic athletes as ambassadors speaking out against China's human rights violations. He asks the question: Why shouldn't the American team leave the whole "we're just athletes" excuse at home?
Indeed, some U.S. Olympic team members feel it is not their place to voice their opinion for lack of being well-informed on the issues. Women's U.S. Soccer Abby Wambach player told Gregory:
That a lot of responsibility, to ask an athlete to not only represent your country and perform and try to win a gold medal, and to have a political view.
Conversely, 1968 Olympic track & field bronze-medalist John Carlos, whose black power salute from the medal podium is one of if not the most famous political image in Olympic game history, told Gregory:
All young individuals should be aware of the situation, the circumstances in which they a becoming involved in...It's something they have to study, and become well-versed in. It's an obligation.
In an article in yesterday's Boston Globe, Reebok announced they are dropping plans for a hospitality facility to host athletes, guests and media in Beijing, citing the human rights controversy as one of the reasons.
Among the activities Reebok planned to conduct at these facilities were media interviews with the 250 athletes the brand is outfitting for the games. Josie Stevens, Reebok's Director of Global Public Relations, said:
As a brand, we didn't want to put our athletes in the position when being interviewed of having to explain their personal views on the human rights issue, and we didn't want to act as a censor either.Reebok plans to distribute canned interviews with their athletes through a video news service instead.
Check out some other articles on the Olympics human rights debate here:
- (on Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek and Team Darfur) Athletes Put Politics in the Spotlight