Haugh: We Can All Do Better

What happened Saturday night in Chicago felt different, like a cultural tipping point.

David Haugh
May 31, 2020 - 6:21 pm
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(670 The Score) What happened Saturday night in Chicago was ugly, inexcusable and inexplicable.

That wasn’t protesting injustice as much as promoting anarchy. That wasn’t a community protest as much as a conflagration started by people hoping to strike fear and chaos into the streets. That was an unforgettable scene seared into our memories.

The images of the city burning and looters looting and criminals vandalizing are indelible and much stronger than any words we can offer to explain it. But we have to try to offer them anyway. We have to talk about these things. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable on a path to progress that’s full of obstacles. The hardest problems have no easy solutions. There's fresh anger and sadness that comes from years of discrimination and disappointment, decades of frustration and fury, and all of it came out this weekend in our city and our country.

To see it made it no easier to believe, with police cars set ablaze and the Loop up for grabs. It made Chicago – and, to a larger degree, many cities across America – unrecognizable.

It also must be unacceptable for everyone with a stake in the city. That’s all of us.

Indifference isn't an option, not at this point in time. The statements by high-profile coaches such as Pat Fitzgerald and teams such as the Bulls are important and necessary – hopefully the start of a chorus of discord with the status quo.

"Racism in any form is wrong, and what we see happening makes us want to take action," Michael and Nancy Reinsdorf said in a statement released by the Bulls on Sunday. "But anger isn’t about destruction. Lawless actions won’t bring better understanding, and they don’t honor the lives that have been lost. We should use our energy and efforts to come together to build a better Chicago that stands for equality and justice for all."

How true. How strong and simple and sensible. And how welcome.

Silence is deafening and risks being interpreted as tacit approval of the kind of oppression and acceptance that led to the tragic death of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Either vow to act in a way that makes things better or understand that doing nothing only makes things worse. Make a commitment. March peacefully. Volunteer. Vote. Whatever it is, do something to make it obvious you're not content doing nothing.

Fairness? A number of African-American men have been unfairly targeted over the years and either lost their dignity, their freedom or – in the case of Floyd – their lives. So speak up. Then say it again.

There have been other highly publicized travesties, other incidents that captured interest and ignited a movement. There have been names of other men brutally manhandled by police or misjudged because of the color of their skin. This incident feels different. The repercussions from this one – videotaped on a smart phone – felt and looked and seemed like something more historic, a cultural tipping point.

As others have referenced, this feels a little like 1918, 1929 and 1968 in America all intersecting in what has become a tumultuous 2020. A global pandemic. An economic disaster. A social revolution. And here we are, at the epicenter of this significant moment in history, looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking questions difficult to answer. What can I do? How can I help? Where do I start? Keep looking. Keep asking.

What does this have to do with sports?

Nothing. And everything.

The most inconsequential thing in the world as we woke up Sunday morning was the dispute between MLB players and owners and whether the sport will return this summer. Or how many teams the NBA and NHL will include when they return to action. And what the NFL and NCAA will do to find a way keep the revenue stream of their football seasons flowing.

Yet, eventually, we can benefit from every example sports has to offer and the platforms many athletes and coaches and executives use responsibly. America doesn’t need sports as much as the country needs the strong examples of leadership sports so often delivers. Or the examples of positive race relations. Or the examples of teamwork and camaraderie and positivity and perseverance.

No, we don’t need sports to make this country better, but they most certainly do. Not to mention that sports represent our little corner of the world for those of us whose livelihoods have been built around the sporting industry. And each of us has an obligation to do what we can to make sure our respective corners of the world stay as free as possible from the pollution of racism.

We can try doing that with empathy and eloquence, energy and initiative. We can do that at home, in our neighborhoods and on the air. We can do that by addressing issues directly instead of ignoring them, using context to diminish controversy.

We can all do better, starting now.

David Haugh is the co-host of the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Listen to the show here. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidHaugh and email him at david.haugh@entercom.com.