Sport has the compelling power of bringing together millions of people, irrespective of their gender, color, nationality, age or religion. USA, being one of the most culturally diverse countries has historically embraced people from all ethnic and demographic background in its truly inclusive society. But, owing to the present-day scenario, will it be possible for a Muslim to become a sports legend, for example, someone like Muhammad Ali? With the prejudice against Muslims in American society will they be presented with an equal opportunity to excel in any field, let alone a competitive one as sports? Mr. Bader Radwan, Aldoury.com analyst, has explored the current trends in the USA to identify what chances the Muslims have here to create a place for themselves:
Will the USA administration provide the support to exceptionally talented Muslim sports person seeking asylum from Muslim countries for taking their career forward? Also, will the same kind of support be provided to American-Muslim children showing talent in any specific field? Will it be possible for another Muhammad Ali to come up as an American sports legend or inspirational hero? According to Radwan, it would be interesting to observe in coming few years if administrative, infrastructure and economic support would be provided by the Government to attract American-Muslims to be the part of a cohesive society.
The fear of backlash violence against American-Muslims is a great concern for the entire community. Majority of them naturally have nothing to do with any form of terrorism-related activity or even ideological support for it. Thankfully, majority of the American ‘non-Muslim’ population is also aware of the current hostility towards ‘Muslim community’ in general. Many individuals as well as associations have publicly supported them and NFL Players Association is just one of the examples. Recently, they have reached out to the families of active Muslim players in NFL after President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order was issued. NFLPA president Eric Winston said, “…our Muslim brothers that are in this league: we have their backs. And that’s it,”. He also mentioned that they are going to stand with them and if they need anything from their union, they would provide the complete support.
Ibtijah Muhammad was USA’s only female Muslim athlete who was part of the 2016 Rio Olympic squad and also the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics. She took the media by storm by sporting a hijab during the events.
Protests cropped up around the country since the travel ban order was signed by President Trump. People have shown their support and solidarity against this prejudice and to fight against this prejudice Muslim-Americans now have a great option: to take sports as their answers against it.
More and more next generation kids and young adults, who consider themselves just Americans, should be encouraged to pursue sports and excel in it. American Muslims actively participate in all aspects of civic life like being a part of the Boy and Girls Scouts, Rotary Clubs, Elks Lodges, Kiwanis Clubs, Veterans of Foreign Wars as well as voluntary community services. Although incidents of people getting detained at the airport because of their ‘Muslim’ names are regularly reported in the global media, majority of the American population is not gripped by Islamophobia.
There are legislative measures for monitoring the systems for inclusion at the ground level and awareness-raising campaigns are organized regularly by educational institutes and community centers. This also ensures equal participation in sports and in encouraging the athletes, players and officials to take a public stance against racism and religious intolerances. Chances look quite bright that in few years, more Muslim sportspersons would adorn the list of American Olympians.
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