When the people cheer

Volume 50, Issue 7: Editor’s Desk

Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief

“Ball don’t lie,” – Rasheed Wallace

In the waning days of this past summer, basketball icon LeBron James Tweeted arguably one of the most memorable social media quips of the year. After Donald Trump lambasted Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors for declining to go to the White House for the annual NBA Champions’ visit, James unforgettably and hilariously came into the defence of his rival and colleague, ring back at Trump with what is now simply known as the “U Bum” Tweet.

A large group of netizens cheered James for his blatant and crude clapback at the president, echoing sentiments reserved for another modern sporting icon, Colin Kaepernick. A larger group dismissed James and attacked the NBA’s biggest name with vitriol and contempt you would only see in Charlottesville riots or the WWE ring.

Like Kaepernick, James was subjected to a response that has become all too common to any athlete who dare speak out against inequality and institutionalized racism: “stick to sports.” While the statement seems like a harmless – even weak – rebuttal to outspoken athletes, the notion of sporting icons “sticking to sports” and ignoring issues that pervade in sociopolitical environments is a scary and dangerous thought.

For some, sports are simply just games and forms of entertainment. But for others, sports are exactly what the 2008 James documentary was titled, More than a Game.

My first significant memory about basketball came when I was six years old. My aunt was watching game three of the 2001 NBA Finals, an iconic matchup that featured one of the sports’ most apt David and Goliath analogies: the titanic, Shaquille O’Neal and his powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers versus the NBA’s foremost cult hero Allen Iverson and his ragtag Philadelphia 76ers.

I didn’t think much of it then and none of the narratives that preceded the matchup registered with me. I had no knowledge that the Lakers were very nearly on the brink of having the greatest playoff run in sporting history, and that Iverson’s team very nearly fell in an earlier round to Vince Carter’s Toronto Raptors – an upset that would have changed the course of Canadian basketball history forever.

The only thing I knew and cared about then was that Shaq was the biggest human I had ever seen, and that Iverson was the fastest.

Basketball grew to become my favourite sport. It was the only sport I participated in competitively and the only sport I never let go of even after the days when my capacities to play “competitively” came to a screeching halt. Every morning, I wake up and read damn near every blog post or analysis about the NBA that I can find. I listen to countless podcasts and watch too many games. I wreck kids in NBA 2K and knockdown jumpers in pick up games – until I run out of breath after a couple laps up and down the court. I organize and partake in several fantasy leagues and participate in healthy online conversations about the game. And yes, a big reason behind our much-improved coverage of the Capilano University Blues over the past few years is simply fandom for the school’s basketball teams.

I was born in a country where people live, breath and bleed basketball, a country where rotting plywood and pieces of wires are used to create a makeshift basketball hoop. When Typhoon Haiyan ravaged parts of the Philippines in 2013, iconic images of survivors rebuilding basketball hoops melted the hearts of people around the world. When I moved to Canada in 2006, one of the first things that students asked me was when I would like to hit the courts.

By pure coincidence, several stories in this issue of the Courier touch on the beauty and importance of sports. We have our annual basketball season previews, updates on the volleyball teams and online specials on the soccer teams’ finish to the season. We have stories on the socioeconomic impact of the Houston Astros’ World Series win and the reclamation of blackness and the problems with the general perception that surrounds black athletes.

Sports, like music, is the great equalizer. Fans are bound by nothing but passion and love for the game and many racial boundaries were eradicated through shared love for sport. There are forces trying to reinforce those boundaries today, and if we were to learn from history, then looking towards our sporting heroes for the slightest bits of inspiration wouldn’t be a bad start.

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