The verdict of the George Zimmerman trial reached far and wide across the nation on the night of July 13, sparking a tidal wave of conflicting emotions in citizens throughout the nation.
Those touched by the ruling include the young members of Game Elite—an Atlanta-based AAU team that is now using the platform of basketball to voice its opinion on the acquittal of Zimmerman in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
According to Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports, members of Game Elite donned custom-made shirts printed with “I AM TRAYVON” while warming up for the Fab 48 AAU tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday.
At AAU game here in Vegas, Game Elite players don "I Am Trayvon" shirts pic.twitter.com/RrUg7FrOUl— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) July 25, 2013
According to Game Elite Head coach Ryan Falker, his team had followed along with the trial’s proceedings and even went as far as posting a video of their reaction to the verdict on social media. Falker says he had the apparel printed after witnessing the shock and alarm his team displayed after Zimmerman’s acquittal.
It was refreshing for me to see how dialed in they were to a social issue outside basketball. Usually for many of them, it’s school and basketball and that’s it. But it was good to see they were surprised, they were shocked and they were affected when the verdict came out. I was happy to see that they cared.
Since their printing, Game Elite has embraced the shirts and plans to continue wearing them during pregame warm-ups. The players have asked if more shirts can be made for their siblings and family, according to Falker, who says the apparel didn't cause anger or backlash at competitions.
There was no negativity that I was aware of. The biggest point we were trying to make, and the kids understand this, is that [Martin] could have easily been them. Even the caucasian player I have on my team, he wore it proudly. It could easily have been him. It could have been any child of any ethnicity.
With that, the door has been opened for discussion—not a conversation of who is guilty and innocent, but a debate on sports and society.
Do social issues have a place on the hardwood or any field of athletic contest? And if so, where is the line?
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