Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Sports are about more than statistics.

As a student sports journalist who is also invested in many of our world’s social issues, that was something I’ve always believed to be true. And during my May 25 visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with the 26th class of the Sports Journalism Institute, it was Lester Rodney who helped me solidify that belief.

About halfway through the exhibit, a video that played in a small room highlighted the former Daily Worker sports reporter’s life and legacy. Rodney combined his passion for journalism with his sense of social justice and pushed for the desegregation of Major League Baseball in 1936.
“If you love something enough, you want it to be perfect. You don’t want it to be racist,” Rodney said in the video production. “And when you change people in baseball, you change America.”

Rodney championed this fight because he knew that sports weren’t all about the statistics.

They’re about individuals striving to reshape the way their game is played. They’re about players and coaches turning nothing into something, using their fame and position to change themselves and their communities and to shed light on issues that matter. They’re about Muhammad Ali refusing to be drafted and about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem.

Because sports is so deeply engrained in this nation’s collective conscience, it is in an unrivaled position to send a strong message. And after being introduced to Rodney’s legacy, I know that’s what I’ll aim to do as a sports journalist. I’ll cover the outcomes of games while searching for the hidden story. I’ll feature individuals and athletes with incredible histories doing incredible things, and I’ll uncover the deeper struggles within leagues and aim to shed light on the injustices.
I’ll make a difference.

–Alaa Abdeldaiem

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