Black Players Coalition Vows to Hold MLL Accountable on Social Justice

PHOTO BY MLL/PRETTY INSTANT

New York's Mark Ellis (34), Chesapeake's Isaiah Davis-Allen and Philadelphia's Chad Toliver (31) lock arms during the national anthem before the Lizards-Barrage game July 23 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.


Major League Lacrosse’s four Black players issued a statement Thursday that suggested improved relations with commissioner Sandy Brown and said they would hold the league accountable “to enact demonstrable action and measurable change” as part of the wider social justice movement happening in the country and world.

“We want to see MLL commit to social justice initiatives around the country, but especially in the communities in which it operates,” the statement said. “We want to see teams and players more actively involved in economic, social and community investment in underprivileged communities. At the league itself, we want to see a robust diversity and inclusion program for the league front office and each team. And more broadly, we want the league and its players to invest time and resources into voting initiatives ahead of the November 2020 election.”

The statement was signed by the four current members of MLL’s newly named Black Players Coalition — Connecticut Hammerheads goalie Kris Alleyne, Chesapeake Bayhawks midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen, New York Lizards midfielder Mark Ellis and Philadelphia Barrage midfielder Chad Toliver.

Originally known as the MLL Four, the players staged demonstrations during the condensed MLL season July 18-26 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., standing apart from their teammates at midfield during the national anthem.

The players initially were critical of the league’s muted response to the Black Lives Matter movement and lack of visible support, especially on social media, for their demonstrations. They sent a letter to MLL’s front office in early August outlining their frustrations.

According to Thursday’s statement, the two sides met Aug. 30 to discuss “the sense of urgency to advance the dialogue of social justice and achieve measurable change in race relations within our league and the country.”

Those conversations spurred MLL to partner with Rally the Vote, a coalition established by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings to drive voter turnout for the November election.

“I am committed to being part of the positive change and look forward to working with our newly established Black Players Coalition, as well as our Players Council, to enable, empower and ensure our players and our league are leaders in the fight to end racism in this country,” Brown said in a separate statement Thursday. “Black Lives Matter, and we must collectively demonstrate it through our actions and deeds every day.”

Both statements appear in their entirety below.







STATEMENT FROM THE BLACK PLAYERS COALITION OF MAJOR LEAGUE LACROSSE

It’s impossible to witness what has happened within the last few months, especially the last few weeks, with Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and not be impacted as black men and equally as Human Beings. In order for us to achieve healing and progress, we must come together — Black, White, Latino, Indigenous, People of Color, ALL OF US — to confront the painful realities of racism, police brutality and Injustice in order to create a unified plan ahead to achieve Justice and Equity. We are proud of our fellow Black athletes across the NBA, WNBA, MLS, MLB and athletes around the world standing up to show that we are more than athletes, we are Leaders. Today, we come together to join in that fight for Justice.

On Sunday, August 30, the Black Players Coalition, currently made up of the only four black players in Major League Lacrosse, and Commissioner Sandy Brown discussed the sense of urgency to advance the dialogue of social justice and achieve measurable change in race relations within our league and the country. We had a candid and impassioned meeting together where the depth of the pains we are feeling and realization of the magnitude of the moment were appreciated on both sides. We are encouraged that our message was heard. Together, we as players, along with the Commissioner and the league as a whole, must be united to condemn racism, police brutality, social injustice and hatred. It is imperative we work together to orchestrate change.

Following the national tragedies surrounding Jacob Blake and the Kenosha shooting, the Black Players Coalition is here to hold MLL accountable to enact demonstrable action and measurable change. We want to see MLL commit to social justice initiatives around the country, but especially in the communities in which it operates. We want to see teams and players more actively involved in economic, social and community investment in underprivileged communities. At the league itself, we want to see a robust diversity and inclusion program for the league front-office and each team. And more broadly, we want the league and its players to invest time and resources into voting initiatives ahead of the November 2020 election.

Together, we will set the standard for being a true ally through the exclusivity of lacrosse.

It has been uplifting to see athletes take action to benefit their communities, with their voices supported by their respective leagues. We understand that we are no different. We are advocates for change during this global movement. It is emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausting to watch our people being shot and killed due to police brutality, racial divide and killing of people of color during this time. As professional lacrosse players, we understand the impact we can create within the communities in which we represent. With that being said, we are providing services and resources that will propel and improve the environment for people of color in underrepresented communities.

While these conversations can be uncomfortable, we must work to create accountability and change for a healthier world for all.

We desire to play this game of Lacrosse that we love. But, we are men first and must equally see our people be successful in the overall game of life.

Signed in One Unified Voice,

Kris Alleyne
CT Hammerheads
Goalie #4

Mark Ellis
NY Lizards
Midfield #34

Isaiah Davis-Allen
Chesapeake Bayhawks
Midfield #26

Chad Toliver
Philadelphia Barrage
Midfield #31

STATEMENT FROM MAJOR LEAGUE LACROSSE COMMISSIONER ALEXANDER BROWN

I want to applaud Kris, Mark, Isaiah, and Chad for ensuring that Major League Lacrosse and its players continue the critically important work of making this country better for ALL of its citizens. These conversations began during our 20th Anniversary Season this summer in Annapolis, and I am grateful that they continue to gain momentum.

As leaders in the lacrosse community, MLL has a unique platform to effectuate meaningful social change. Our players, and in particular the Black Players Coalition of Major League Lacrosse, have identified ways we can all help and build on areas where we have fallen short in the past. As I continue to listen and learn, I want to express my gratitude to these men and players throughout MLL for their courage and integrity.

Major League Lacrosse and its players know that the struggles facing our society are substantial, and while we are not going to solve our country’s social crisis on our own, as leaders in this sport we absolutely have a role to play. After listening to the priorities of the Black Players Coalition, we took action this week and were proud to partner with ‘Rally the Vote,’ as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide staff, players, fans and followers information and resources for voting initiatives ahead of the November 2020 election.

I am committed to being part of the positive change and look forward to working with our newly established Black Players Coalition, as well as our Players Council, to enable, empower and ensure our players and our league, are leaders in the fight to end racism in this country. Black Lives Matter, and we must collectively demonstrate it through our actions and deeds every day.

Alexander (Sandy) Brown
Commissioner of Major League Lacrosse

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