The sports world is awash in controversy, and while most people agree on the need for sports to grow in popularity, many athletes and coaches are calling for more respect.
The Sports Writers Association of America’s annual Convention is coming up, and one of the topics on the agenda will be respect and inclusion.
“We are not a group that is all about sports and we’re not going to take it away from anybody,” said Jeff Wachtel, the former head of the United States Olympic Committee, who is now an associate professor at the University of Southern California.
“We’re here to talk about sports, and I think a lot of us are just tired of being ignored and not being listened to.”
Wachtel said he and other athletes, coaches and fans have felt neglected by sports for decades.
They feel it is a place where the elite and those in the bottom rungs of society have been treated differently than other people.
“I was always taught to look at it as a game, and the games are the competitions,” he said.
“The Olympics are a place of achievement, but we have a lot to learn from other sports.
And we have to work harder.”
For some, that means changing the culture around the sport.
Last year, the New York Times published a profile of former NFL quarterback Matt Ryan that highlighted the ways in which he and his teammates have been mocked for their bodies and the way they dress.
Ryan was asked to take part in a fitness contest in his native Wisconsin and wore a short skirt and a black T-shirt underneath his shorts.
He was asked whether he would “go out and win the Heisman Trophy if you can.”
He responded, “No.
I would probably take the Heisman and walk away with a gold watch.”
Ryan, who turned pro with the Detroit Lions in 2016, has been called a misogynist, a racist and a bully, among other things.
He has apologized to the women he has been accused of assaulting, and his former wife has said he would not want them to hear their story.
But some people in the sports world are not satisfied with Ryan’s apology.
“The whole thing about the Olympics is, that it’s the ultimate sports event,” said Mike Pfleger, the founder of the popular social media site Twitter.
“I think it’s just a big, fat lie that the sports are a reflection of society.
They’re a showcase of athletic excellence.
But the truth is, if you look at the way the media covers athletes, the way people watch, and what people are thinking about them, it’s pretty clear.”
Wessel, the American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson, said he feels that the Olympics are not about the athletes, but the culture.
“What people are interested in is how athletes compete, not how they are,” he told the New Yorker.
“It’s about the culture of the sport, and it’s not about athletes.
We have to change that.”
In the meantime, many sportspeople have been embracing a new approach to how to get their message across to the wider world.
Some athletes are using social media to reach out to people who may not have the same platform as them.
Some coaches are using the platform to make themselves more visible, and they are also encouraging their players to make the change to a more inclusive culture.
Some of those who have spoken out about the mistreatment they say they face are athletes, like Wachtal and Wachtels former wife, former NBA player Lisa Leslie, who said they were treated unfairly by their coach, who called her “a bitch.”
“He didn’t treat me like a human being, and he didn’t say nice things about me,” Leslie said in an interview with New York magazine.
“So I said, ‘He doesn’t like me, but he doesn’t know how to treat me.'”
The Wachtles’ story is not unique, Leslie said.
Many athletes are often treated unfairly in sports because of their race, ethnicity, sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The problem, Leslie argued, is that athletes are rarely punished for these issues.
“It’s not really about the person who made a mistake, it is about the problem of inequality that they perpetuate,” she said.
“That is a problem in the world, and we have the ability to fix it, but that’s a lot harder than just fixing the problem itself.
We’re not trying to fix that problem.
We just have to solve the problem that we have created.”