Given the current climate in the United States, and indeed throughout the world, following the death of African American George Floyd while under arrest, a number of sporting bodies are speaking out against systemic racism and social justice.
One of the latest organizations to come forth and offer its position is the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), which is headed by Bahamian Mike Sands. Over 50 percent of its members represent nations that are predominantly black. The 31-member body released a statement over the weekend, stamping out racism and social injustice as ills in society that must be eradicated.
NACAC is arguably the most productive area association out of the six of World Athletics (WA), usually generating the bulk of the medals and top finishes at global outdoor meets, particularly the world outdoor championships and the Olympics.
Floyd’s death heightens an ongoing issue in the United States – one that has reached crisis level and has spurred numerous protests in major cities in the U.S. and around the world.
“Over the past few weeks, the spectre of systemic racism has been at the forefront of international news. Because of the resurgence of racism at the global level in the recent past, many local, regional and international sporting organizations and athletes have been forced to speak out because of their understanding of the mounting evidence of its invasion in the world of sport,” said Sands in a press release. “NACAC finds it absolutely necessary to add its voice to the chorus that continues to grow, declaring its total rejection of any form of racism in society, generally, but more so in the world of sport. The positive values attendant to sport have allowed it to be one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. The blight of racism and its consequences defy our very humanity and must be vehemently rejected in all its forms, wherever it threatens to rear its ugly head.”
The NACAC covers nations in North and Central America inclusive of English and Spanish-speaking countries, and all of the Caribbean. Sands made history when he became the first Bahamian to be elected to the top position of the prestigious body a year ago. He will serve until 2022.
“NACAC is insistent that there is no place for racism in our sport of athletics and will commit to the promotion of the lofty values that has allowed us to rise to and maintain our position at the very pinnacle of global sport,” said Sands. “As we continue to lead the world in the fight against drugs in sport, so too we strive to play a leading role in the eradication of racism in sport, fully cognizant that by doing so, we are participating in a greater war – that of eradicating the scourge of racism from global society,” he added.
The sports world, athletics included, has been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread in March. Following that, systemic racism and social injustice came to the forefront following the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May – an incident that has sparked outrage throughout the U.S. and the world. Four police officers were fired and have been charged – Derek Chauvin with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter; and three others with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.