Doc Rivers claims people see black athletes as ‘a problem’ out of uniform
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has seen the trend for too long. Black athletes are glorified for their sporting feats, but take away the cameras, the glitz, and glamour, and they’re just as likely to be viewed as a threat to society — a sad dichotomy that has plagued the way the United States treats its black citizens.
“It’s the same with all black athletes,” Rivers told Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. “When they’re wearing the uniform, they’re seen as an athlete. When they take it off, it’s a problem.”
Rivers words actually resemble those by Tommie Smith, who raised his fist with John Carlos at the 1968 Summer Olympics:
“If I do something good then I am American, but if I do something bad then I am a Negro.”
The trend applies to this day as to how athletes are treated, even in stores:
“You always hear about a black athlete in a store and he can’t get service, but then the minute he’s recognized, all the employees want to give him service,” said the Clippers coach. “When the uniform comes off, he’s not as powerful.”
Rivers noted this isn’t just a recent fad, but something that’s happened well before camera phones and videos put it at the forefront of media coverage.
“What is happening is not new, it’s been going on for a long time, people have been speaking about these things and only a few people have heard it,” said Rivers. “But I tell people, you’ve got to keep speaking the truth, it’s worth it. Just because you’re taking the right stand doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but it’s worth it.”
What Rivers explained is especially powerful now that the country is going through civil unrest. African Americans are demanding their rightful respect and consideration after a myriad of murders.
A player’s uniform should not be what protects him from violence and vitriol, but rather the constitutional rights to be one of the people police have sworn to serve and protect.