There has been a rise in hate crimes against the Asian and Pacific Islander community, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year we saw a mass shooting in Atlanta in which the majority of victims were Asian women.
In another incident, a 75-year-old Asian woman was also the victim of a recent hate crime. The spark in anti-Asian sentiment has prompted everyone to stand up for something, including sports leagues.
In late February, the NFL posted a statement saying, “The rising acts of verbal and physical violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is abhorrent, disgusting and must cease as we are all a part of the same human family. We at the NFL stand in solidarity with AAPI community and are against all types of racism and intolerance #StopAsianHate.”
Shortly thereafter, the MLB followed suit.
“Across the country, there has been an alarming increase in hate crimes directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These acts — based on racist ideologies, xenophobia and ignorance — have no place in our society or our communities. It is our shared responsibility to root out insidious hate with empathy and understanding. We condemn these targeted acts of violence and commit to taking action as we stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”
Following the Atlanta shooting, the NBA made their statement, too.
“Last night’s tragic events in Atlanta are part of a disturbing rise in violence and discrimination towards Asian Americans. Today and every day, we stand with the Asian community and condemn all acts of hate and racism. #StopAsianHate.”
Many teams followed and made their own individual statements, as well.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Recently, sports teams and leagues have been quick to take a stand on social justice issues. Releasing statements about current events has become a part of being a team or league. The injustices we have seen have seeped through and made their way into sports. In this example, anti-Asian hate is at the forefront of the sports world.
Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Chloe Kim, an Asian American, recently opened up about these events. According to Yahoo sports, Kim posted screenshots of her direct messages with expletives and anti-Asian remarks. She added that she’s been seeing these types of messages for the last seven years. She said she also received messages, primarily from white people, condemning her for being silent — but they had no idea what she’s been experiencing.
In the NBA, perhaps the most notable Asian American basketball player (Yao Ming is the only challenger) Jeremy Lin, reported experiencing racism on the basketball court. Lin has been very outspoken on these issues and recently posted on Twitter describing that he had been called “coronavirus” on the court by an opponent. According to Yahoo Sports, Lin, who plays in the G League for the Golden State Warriors affiliate, refused to name the player, but pleaded with fans and followers for help. The NBA launched an internal investigation and was able to identify the player and is moving forward with handling the issue with Lin’s support, according to Shams Charania.
In a bit of good news on the subject, Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp is launching an NFT, or non-fungible token, and is donating the funds to stopping Asian hate. NFT’s have taken the world by storm recently, some going for incredible amounts of money. According to CNCB, Rapp will launch six digital collections and 90 total NFT’s in an effort to raise money for the Asian communities struck by the recent violence.
For a long time, sports were heralded by fans as an escape from reality. As we saw a lot last year, sports can only provide an escape for so long. At some point, these issues come right to the front door, whether we want them to or not. Now, sports leagues, teams and players are leading the charge to make a change.