In the wake of Derek Chauvin being found guilty Tuesday of the murder of George Floyd, Red Sox manager Alex Cora offered his thoughts on the significance of athletes using their platforms to raise awareness about issues of social justice.
After cellphone video spread a year ago showing Chauvin driving his knee into Floyd’s neck, there was an overwhelming public outcry for justice. Athletes across all sports were vocal in calling for change. Once the verdict came down, those same athletes saw it as a victory for accountability.
Cora felt the same way.
“It’s been something that we’ve had over our head for a year,” Cora said. “Justice, I don’t want to use that word. I think it’s more about accountability. I hope that we all understand as a society that if you don’t do things right, you’ve got to pay the price.
“And hopefully this means that there’s a change in society, that this is the beginning of something. It’s a huge day, right? It was a huge day yesterday, and hopefully from now on we understand that that’s the way things are done now.”
To Cora, the figures across sports speaking out validated the power of using their voices.
“There’s something about us that people can see us as you just have to entertain people, just stay in your area, right?” Cora said. “You read and write, ‘Stick to sports.’ And that’s not only with coaches or players or front-office people, business — you guys too, you guys cover sports — stick to sports.
“Like I told you guys a few weeks ago, we’re in a state right now, I do believe that the more we talk about issues, the better we are as a society. I think our young people, they’re more willing to do that than when I grew up. And I think that’s a positive.”
While the Red Sox weren’t among the teams who issued a statement regarding the verdict, Cora said he knows the weight his words can carry.
“The platform is the platform,” he said. “Right now, I’m the only guy talking to the media about this right now, from the Red Sox organization. I understand that. But at the same time, I don’t have to limit my platform, to be a spokesman. I can be a regular human being in the barbershop — although I haven’t been in a barbershop in years — to talk about issues that impact our lives, and I think it’s refreshing that we live in a society that people are willing to do it.”
Much of the conversation regarding Floyd’s murder was driven by young protesters calling for justice. Cora said the public as a whole is better off when it can engage in discourse about social issues, and it creates bright possibilities for future generations.
“Having a daughter that has gone to college, she’s very lucky to be living in a society like that,” Cora said. “Do we have to get better? Of course we have to get better. No doubt about it, in every aspect. But the fact that they’re willing and they can do it, it’s a great thing.”
More Red Sox players received COVID-19 vaccinations prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Major League Baseball will ease COVID restrictions once teams have 85 percent of their rosters vaccinated.
Cora said he would have a better sense by the end of the week if the Sox will actually reach that 85 percent.
Cora is fully vaccinated and said he’s feeling fine. He added that for players who do get vaccinated, he’s anticipating building in time for the possibility of side effects.
“That’s something that’s been happening throughout the league,” he said. “We know that’s something that might happen.”
A pair of official scoring changes were made to the Red Sox’ win over the White Sox on Monday. Franchy Cordero’s fourth-inning hit and RBI were changed to a fielding error by first baseman Jose Abreu, making the run that scored unearned. Also, Cordero was given a stolen base for a play in the seventh inning that originally was ruled defensive indifference … Despite having the second-best record in baseball (12-6), the Red Sox came into Wednesday only 6-5 at Fenway.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.