By now, the “hashtag-gate” came into the attention of not only the lacrosse world but the rest of the sporting world. I have chosen the name “hashtag-gate” instead of mentioning the phrase in question, because I do not believe that it belongs nor does it need to be repeated in this post, the TLA blog, or on the rest of the internet again. I have voiced my opinion prior, and given a quote for Connor Wilson’s post on this subject. I have loved this sport from the moment I touched the stick back in 1995, and since then I’ve been on a path in lacrosse that I did not expect. I brought lacrosse to Thailand, and I make it available for those who choose to play it. I have started two other international lacrosse programs (Singapore, and Malaysia) from the ground up. As well as receiving the honor to assist, and advise lacrosse development in Uganda and Jamaica. However, this all may have never happened, because racial issues that I experienced drove me away from lacrosse for many years.
That is why it is an issue that’s very close to my heart, and I feel strongly about it. If we allow any sort of racial intolerance to exist in lacrosse, letting it sink it’s fangs into lacrosse players of a different races. Then those players may turn away from the sport, and never look back at lacrosse again like I have.
Yet, instead of turning this into a “Marketing Witch Hunt” on those who committed the act, I want to focus on the issue at hand. I do not want to discuss who is right or who is wrong, because what’s done is done. From my understanding, the parties involved have worked toward resolving the problem. We have already seen how divided it has created the lacrosse community, and it is the last thing we need in our ever growing sport. There will always be two sides of the coin. What bothers me is that the other side of the coin often times does not fully understand the gravity of the situation. Simply down playing the issue or turning it against the people who were effected as over reacting and oversensitive is unacceptable.
Why is that?
For one, I do not believe Jovan, who brought up this issue, is being oversensitive, and I have never been viewed as a guy who has a “racial chip” on my shoulder. At the same time, because of my experience I do not look the other way when the issue is upon us. I would rather be oversensitive than be UNDER sensitive when it comes to the subject of race or sex. This is because it means the possibility of offending another fellow man/woman is avoided. But what we are talking about is just “skin deep” (no pun intended), as the actual problem we have is the lack of respect and tolerance toward a different group of people. And now it’s no longer just in our everyday lives, but it has trickled down into lacrosse that can not ignored. Especially with the FIL’s plans for global expansion with lacrosse development.
With more countries joining the FIL every year, it is important that the existing people within the lacrosse community grow along with the sport. The growth I’m talking about includes understanding and sensitivity within the ever expanding diverse lacrosse community. There are a lot of negatives that have been thrown around this “hashtag-gate”, myself included, partly because of anger from a lack of understanding, and partly from the sadness that we still, more than ever, neglect one another.
After spending a good amount of time reflecting on the issue at hand, and separating the initial feelings, I have come to a final conclusion:
There isn’t any amount of money in the world that makes it worth it to potentially risk, alienate or offend one or more groups of people. There isn’t an acceptable body count of people who find the issue offensive that dictates whether or not it’s okay. If it is offensive, then IT IS offensive. I hope that we all can learn from this situation, and work towards not allowing anything like this sort to happen again. Just as we have learned throughout our history, we need to correct the mistake we’ve made. This is true especially in America where they have made more leaps forward than many other countries concerning racial struggles. The problem is bigger than all of us, but it is made by man and therefore it can be fixed by man. The fate of lacrosse is left to us. Whether it will grow beyond what anyone else expected or just simply continue to be viewed as another elite white sport remains to be seen…