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Standing Up: Soccer Players Defend a Teammate

Posted on: October 15th, 2020 by Bri DeRosa

In 2020, bad news seems to dominate the headlines. With our attention focused on politics and a pandemic, among other things, it can feel like role models are scarce. But parents still want to talk to their kids about important character traits, like standing up for others. It’s worth looking for the good news headlines that remind us there are people out there who are standing up and speaking out for what they believe, and sharing those stories with our kids. Recently, the soccer team the San Diego Loyal provided an opportunity to talk about standing up for friends, even when it cost them everything.

During a September match against the Los Angeles Galaxy II, a Galaxy player called a Loyal player a racial slur. The Loyal planned to pause their next game for a peaceful demonstration of support for their teammate. However, in that next game — against the Phoenix Rising — another Loyal player was targeted. This time, it was openly gay player Collin Martin. Players and coaches heard a homophobic insult used against him, but the referees didn’t act. That’s when the Loyal knew what they had to do.

Under the leadership of coach Landon Donovan, the Loyal walked off the field. They forfeited their 3-1 lead, the entire match, and their shot at the playoffs. It was a season-ending decision made to support their teammate. You can read more about the Loyal standing up for Martin in this article from ABC News.

The Loyals’ decision to forfeit the rest of their season is worth talking about with your family. Here are some questions you can use to start the conversation:

  • What do you think about the team walking off the field? Do you think they should have waited for their planned demonstration instead?
  • Have you ever heard someone use a slur against another person? It can be hard to know what to say or do. How did you respond? Do you wish you had reacted differently?
  • Landon Donovan says he believes waiting for the planned demonstration would have been the wrong decision. “When the real moment comes and we don’t act, then we’re all complicit.” What do you think he means? Do you agree with him?
  • If you were a player who had been targeted with racism or homophobia, like Collin Martin, how would you feel about your teammates forfeiting the game to support you?
  • The Loyal gave up the rest of their season to do what they thought was right. Have you ever sacrificed something that was important to you to do the right thing? What was that like?
  • Standing up for others can be difficult. Can you think of a time when you stood up for someone else, even though it was hard? Has anyone ever stood up for you in a way you didn’t expect? How did you feel while it was happening? How did you feel afterward?
  • What’s one way our family can practice standing up for others?