The project includes a public service announcement featuring a montage of athletes telling fans to "stand for our teams but don't stand for racism." "It starts here in our house — if you hear something wrong, offensive or hateful, speak up, say something," athletes say in the video. "If we all take the lead together, hate falls behind."
Among those featured in the announcement are the Patriots' Devin McCourty, the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia and the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron. The minute-long video will be played during events at Fenway, Gillette Stadium and the TD Garden, and has already been viewed hundreds of times on social media websites.
Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement that he mistakenly believed that the country's "less than stellar pasts were firmly behind us," but that the project starts a dialogue that "will place us on the right side of history."
"Our sports teams, our athletes, are woven into the fabric of our society," Hendry said. "For that reason, we cannot remain silent nor still." The project is being launched at a time when the nation's racial tensions are increasingly colliding with the world of sports.
Dozens of football players across the NFL knelt or linked arms during the national anthem on Sunday in a show of defiance after President Donald Trump criticized that form of protest. And Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy previously said the Boston-area collaboration was sparked by two racist incidents at Fenway Park in May, including one in which an opposing player was called a racial slur.
The project was unveiled Thursday at a Fenway Park event that featured a conversation on race led by executives and former athletes for the teams. Former Celtics forward Cedric Maxwell said sports can be used to overcome racism and that he was "appalled" that Trump criticized athletes who use their celebrity to protest racial injustice.
During a speech introducing the event, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said the initiative has the power to combat racism and discrimination outside the confines of sports. "The power of sports is bringing a lot of conversation to the United States of America right now," Walsh said, according to WBZ-TV. "The conversation isn't just about an incident that happened at Fenway Park, it's about what's happening in our city every single day."