In the wake of last week’s horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed, it hardly seems like sports matter at all.
In a pregame press conference ahead of the NBA Western Conference finals showdown between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks last week, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr refused to talk basketball and instead used his time to offer condolences to those affected and plead that lawmakers finally "do something."
“I’m tired, I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there,” said Kerr. “I’m tired of the moments of silence.”
Unsurprisingly, discourse over gun control and the disturbing regularity of large-scale shootings in the United States has consumed social media and seeped into the basketball world. Anger over the shooting has grown at a remarkable and encouraging speed, and increasing amounts of public figures—like Kerr—have voiced their own grievances in an effort to reach the widest possible audience.
On ACC Radio Friday evening, former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski echoed Kerr’s statements and emphasized the importance of collaboration during an emotional time in which politics have overshadowed the families tragically involved.
“I don't understand why we sit on two sides of an aisle,” said Krzyzewski. “Their first and foremost responsibility is to serve the people. That's what your job is. It's not about power. It's not about power. It's about serving the people, and people of all races, of all nationalities. They need to be served.”
Frustrations over Congress’s inability or refusal to pass gun control legislation that would ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines and require universal background checks have grown much louder in the wake of Uvalde.
The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was just old enough to legally buy the AR-15 and high-capacity magazines he used in the shooting.
“You’re a damn American, and the other [people] who are suffering are people that need you,” Krzyzewski said of congresspeople who have opposed gun control reforms. “What the hell are we doing? We’re not taking care of our people.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself if you’re in a position of power...” he added. “You have the ultimate platform. You have a chance to vote. Your vote represents a bunch of, a lot of people. You shouldn't vote for the party. You should vote for the people that you serve. And you should have the guts, the courage and it's your duty. It's your duty to do that. We are not doing that duty at the national level when our country is suffering greatly.”
Krzyzewski, while remaining publicly neutral about his political leanings, has not shied away from public remarks about poignant national issues. He famously spoke out against the George Floyd murder in 2020 and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that followed, echoing similar statements in each.
Krzyzewski joined Kerr and many fellow sportspeople, including Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd and former Duke player Jayson Tatum in speaking out this past week.
“To me, sport is the biggest unifying thing in the world,” Krzyzewski said Friday.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.