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Volume 24 No. 158

Sports in Society

Heat F LeBron James Friday posted a picture on his Twitter account of 13 members of the team "wearing Heat hoodies" to bring awareness to the death of 16-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Central Florida on Feb. 26, according to Ethan Skolnick of the PALM BEACH POST. Heat G Dwyane Wade prior to the team's shootaround that afternoon "posted on Facebook an old photo of himself in a hooded sweatshirt -- and made it the avatar on his Twitter account." Several Heat players, including Wade and James, "took the floor Friday night in Detroit with messages such as 'RIP Trayvon Martin' and 'We want justice' scrawled across their sneakers" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/24). Martin's father said last night that he and his family "have been overwhelmed by sports stars" speaking out about the case (AP, 3/25). James said, "A lot of us are fathers, a lot of us have young boys. And for us to be in the position we're in, we're happy to be able to shed light on the situation" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/24). The Miami Herald’s Israel Gutierrez said, “These influential stars brought added awareness to a heartbreaking tragedy that should have a nation’s attention. In an era where sports celebrities shy away from political statements so as not to hurt their brand, this gesture should be commended” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/25). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I applaud them because for decades now, we had gone into a place -- and I’m talking about famous black people -- where there was a fear … of offending other patrons, their owners, the league” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/23).

ESPN RELAXES STANDARDS: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes some ESPN staffers “began showing themselves in hoodies in their Twitter photos" to bring attention to the Martin case. ESPN on Friday “asked those staffers to stop it -- and not discuss the case on Twitter -- but reversed that policy” yesterday. ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz said that the policy applied “only to social media.” Krulewitz: “We believe communicating through TV is very different from social media, which provides a personal interactive environment” (USA TODAY, 3/26).