By Annanya Raghavan |
When Kevin Durant decided to join the Golden State Warriors three years ago, I was bothered. It wasn’t the fact that he joined the team, but the reaction to it that left a bad taste in my mouth. Fast forward to today, and I am still bothered.
In his postgame interview, Stephen Curry was asked about the reaction from Toronto fans when KD got hurt. He noted that that was not his experience with the city and that he hopes that ugliness does not show itself again. The fact of the matter is, that ugliness has been showing ever since that 4th of July decision. In fact, that ugliness has shown itself in sports long before that day even arrived.
LeBron James and his infamous decision is 2010 to join the Miami Heat sparked an outrage in the sports world that was unlike something that had been seen before. Not only was this outrage coming from fans, who would go on to burn their LeBron jerseys as one part of their reaction, but Dan Gilbert made comments unprecedented for an owner to make. That was the first time that I really saw the ugly side of sports rear its head.
Jump to six years later, the ugly side emerged again with KD’s decision.
Snake. Cupcake. Weak. Soft. Coward.
These were just a few of the things that he was called in response to his decision to join the Golden State Warriors.
This season in particular, I have seen an ugly side more than I have ever before. I saw it when a Utah Jazz fan made racial comments towards Russell Westbrook. And when Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens shoved Kyle Lowry in Game 3 of the Finals. And most recently, I saw it when Raptors fans cheered as Kevin Durant went down with a devastating injury.
Each of the instances points to a fundamental problem in sports where entities are viewed as more important than people. When a franchise trades a player, it’s just business. When a player leaves a franchise, he’s a traitor.
The happiness of a business is prioritized over the happiness of a person. The prospect of winning a championship is prioritized over the health of an individual.
Sports are a beautiful thing. I have been a part of them all my life, and I hope to be a part of them for the rest of my life. But, like most things, there are two sides to this coin: the beautiful and the ugly side.
Looking to history, the instances of the beautiful far outnumber the moments of the ugly. Sports are a wonderful thing, but they are built on the backs of people who are sometimes pushed to the wayside. Of course, athletes should be thankful for the fans, for the game would not be as big as it is without them. At the same time, fans should be thankful for the athletes, for there would not be a beautiful game to love without them.
The beauty of sports point to how far we’ve come. The ugly side points to how far we still have to go.
Annanya Raghavan is a former collegiate basketball player who now works in sports. She has a passion and love for the game, but also recognizes there are aspects to it that are not quite so beautiful. Sports are something that she hopes to make her career. While sports are important and they matter, the people who play them matter far more.