“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said.
A basketball game alone is no great accomplishment in the thousands of years, global struggle to achieve racial harmony.
But when Indiana and Nebraska tip-off at 6 p.m. Eastern in Lincoln, Neb. on Monday, the game, played on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, is more than just another Big Ten contest to the participants.
IU forward Trayce Jackson-Davis likes that sports provide the opportunity for athletes to bring greater attention to the causes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for more than 50 years ago.
“I think it is a great tradition that I hope will only grow,” said Jackson-Davis. “Sports are a great platform to help bring awareness to social injustices. It’s really important for each generation to pass on the strides that are made so we never forget what someone like Dr. King did to help make change for a better world.”
Both teams will wear specially designed shooting shoots designed to commemorate the contributions of the esteemed civil rights leader. The shirts were designed by Holly Weber, the Director of Graphic Design for the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology, and were produced by Adidas.
Senior guard Rob Phinisee shares Jackson-Davis’ sentiment — sports can illustrate the cohesion and harmony in our society — and he too wants to see more athletes get a chance to perform on this holiday.
“I think every college basketball team should get the opportunity to play on this day,” noted Phinisee. “It can be a celebration of what Dr. King accomplished but also should be a day where we acknowledge and address the challenges ahead. We can and have to do better. As visible leaders on our campuses, we should set an example every day of compassion, equality and togetherness.”
Race Thompson see the holiday as a time to celebrate how much progress has been made, and the sacrifices necessary to get there.
At the same time Thompson wants to remind everyone to look within, seek love and harmony rather than division, and look to Dr. King as the inspiration to get there.
“It’s important that we take time today to remember the sacrifices those before me went through to help overcome so many obstacles,” said Thompson. “There still is so much work to do to help eliminate prejudice, hate and division amongst ourselves that we have to keep moving forward with the same passion and determination that Dr. King provided.”
The positive message from the Indiana players serves as a powerful reminder of one of King’s core messages — at a time when far too many seek to divide.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” King said.
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