Freedom fighters, civil-rights leaders, and anyone else interested in establishing a true cultural balance have sought equality and harmony for as long as history can remember. Multiple approaches have been taken—from aggressive and violent to passive and peaceful—all to no avail.
The one stone that has been left unturned and unexplored has been sports.
The manner in which a game has effortlessly blurred color lines and destroyed cultural barriers is constantly overlooked.
When the gun smoke cleared and preaching stopped working, organized athletics allowed individuals to see beyond the superficial and draw true inspiration from the people that transcended all of the negativity.
Change did not come without heartache, but the effects of integration and increased racial tolerance resonated out of the sports world and into society.
Jackie Robinson's story is well documented, and everyone now understands the impact of integration in Major League Baseball. But the subtle impact has gone overlooked in a society that attempts to ignore cultural and ethnic relations—as if that will make us unconscious of our differences.
The trivial feuds between Hispanics cease to exist when Puerto Rican baseball fans can cheer for a Dominican Pedro Martinez as he strikes out Jorge Posada.
It's not a loss of cultural identity, but a testament to how sports have allowed fans to unconsciously support individuals for their abilities and not the culture they identify with.
Even more important than cultural diversification of the game in the United States has been the worldwide effect of sports.
Japan native, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, wears No. 51 in honor of Puerto Rico native, Bernie Williams. Suzuki is also known to speak Spanish, a skill that makes his dedication to his team and to the game more valuable than his athletic ability.
Disney's 2000 film Remember the Titans illustrated the racial turmoil a high-school football team faced on the road to a perfect season.
When athletes can be united to achieve a common goal, the issues of skin color, foreign languages, and cultural upbringing lose significance and ultimately create a new mold for society to follow.
For more, please visit the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Musuem.
Angel Navedo is the Head Writer at NYJetsFan.com, boasting Jet Fuel Radio, frequently updated news and opinions, and a premier fan community.
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