In a hostile climate comprised of the gun lobby and its allies’ constant attempts to transform our every waking moment into discussions of the Second Amendment, the NBA is proving its power as an agent of social change with a series of public service announcements launched late last month.
It’s a campaign for change based on making guns less lethal – consistent with the Second Amendment but also “reviving the idea of marketing smart guns, which only fire for a recognized owner; making it harder for people with criminal records and serious mental health problems to get ahold of guns.” Directed by Spike Lee and featuring a number of high-profile basketball stars, including the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, these PSAs present a heartfelt and humanizing tone to the words of some of the sport’s most influential figures.
“I’m doing this PSA because I think it can be changed. It’s heartbreaking, it’s disappointing,” states Curry, who is seen as both the league’s MVP and the father of two beautiful little girls in the video. He goes on to speak of the “unimaginable pain” of families who have lost children to gun violence, noting that “it’s affecting the cultural tone and temperature of the country.” People “can’t just go down the street to the corner store, can’t go to the park with their families for fear of their lives.”
Curry ends his segment by saying, “Whatever we can do to hopefully change our culture, that’s what I’m here for. I have a voice and I want to share it and stop gun violence in its entirety.” It’s refreshing and encouraging to see a star of his stature using the power of his voice to unite people for positive change. Sports competitions are not taking place in vacuums, and I know I’ve quoted C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary in posts prior, but this idea is ringing true now more than ever: “Lurking beyond the boundaries of every game are the controlling interests, the forces of oppression; the economics of the owners, the politics of the government, even the passions of the fans…sport is no sanctuary from the real world because sport is part of the real world, and the liberation and the oppression are inextricably bound.”
Carmelo Anthony says that the status quo will remain the stagnant norm “until we decide as people to fight against it,” visibly mindful of the power in his voice and of sport’s ability to incite change as “part of the real world. “Now I’m in a situation where my voice can be heard,” he reflects. “The guns should never be an option.”
The campaign directs its viewers to Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy organization funded by Michael Bloomberg. It’s an encouraging step in an effort to unite Americans against gun violence, one that should perhaps be replicated by the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, which currently finds itself in a position to use its massive impact on Mexican society to invest in meaningful campaigns against racism and homophobia rather than fighting against small fines. Sports for social change.