Boston’s Pro Sports Teams Band Together to Fight Racism at Games

The Red Sox will be the first team to start with the 'Take the Lead' initiative.

Boston Red Sox
A ball glove and cap of the Boston Red Sox in the dugout during a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Five professional sports teams in the Boston area will be joining together to unveil their new public service announcement against racism and hate speech. The Red Sox will be the first to unveil the new message at Fenway Park on Sept. 28, reports The UndefeatedThere will also be panel discussions before the game.

The Red Sox was the last team to integrate baseball, something that Red Sox CEO and president Sam Kennedy, chairman Tom Werner and owner John Henry acknowledged when they took over the team in 2002. Since then, they have said they were going to work hard to make Fenway as inclusive and accepting as possible, The Undefeated writes.

But that didn’t happen right away. In May 2017, fans threw a bag of peanuts and used racial slurs towards Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. The next day, another fan overheard a white father saying the Kenyan artists singing the national anthem was “n–ing it up,” reports The Undefeated. 

So Kennedy started working on a plan to address racism, and eventually, all five professional teams — Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and Revolution — and professional leaders started to map out how they can end racism at Boston sports venues, The Undefeated reports. Kennedy spoke to The Undefeated about the result: the Take the Lead initiative.

They created a public service announcement that will run at the venues and then there will be panel discussions about race in Boston and sports and how “people can take the lead in standing up to hate speech,” Kennedy said, according to The Undefeated. 

Kennedy said that after he heard about what happened to Jones, he reached out to him and the Orioles to ” express our disappointment that it happened and to apologize just because we felt no one should have to go through that.”

Kennedy said he knows Take the Lead will not change the world, but that it is important that the people in leadership positions have an “opportunity and obligation” to address the issues. He said that it all starts with an open and honest conversation with employees and stakeholders and remaining vigilant regarding the code of conduct and policies and procedures at the ballpark, The Undefeated reports.

“I think the denial that racism exists can be a problem,” Kennedy said to The Undefeated. “I think acknowledging it and recognizing that it’s a pervasive negative force in our society is a big part of the battle.”

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