Team Wears I AM TRAYVON Shirts-Why Didn’t ESPN Cover Story?

Updated: August 6, 2013

By Chuck Modiano

Every player on Game Elite’s 17U squad from Atlanta were wearing “I AM TRAYVON” T-shirts during warm-ups, didn’t remove them until tip-off, and wore the shirts before and after games for the duration of their stay in the prestigious Fab 48 Las Vegas tournament. CBS Sports reports:

“We all wanted to wear the shirts because, even though the right thing didn’t turn out in court we wanted everyone to know we haven’t forgotten about this” – Avery Patterson.

“We have to respect Trayvon in his death. He died for no reason. I don’t like the way it turned out to be, and we’re trying to represent him as a team.” – John-Carlos Reyes.

“This is out of respect purely for Trayvon and his family,” “Justice didn’t [come] in his trial, but it’s important for us as a group to show support for his family.” – Antonio Lang.

“I support the cause with them. We talked in that hotel room, we were shocked and discussed how we really felt about it. It could be anyone.” – Alex Bearup

Bearup, the squad’s only white player, also expressed his enthusiasm on Twitter:

Yes, proudly rock that shirt Avery, John, Antonio, and Alex! Now, whether Trayvon “could be anyone” has inspired new “We are Not Trayvon” websites, and the types of mass discussion  usually reserved for The White Privilege Conference. I even stated myself last year that “I Am Not Trayvon Martin”. However, such important debate should not dim any light from this young team’s inspirational act of solidarity, or Bearup’s most relevant words:


With polls sadly showing a slight majority of whites actually agree with the Zimmerman Verdict, I am ready to warmly embrace all the positive “I AM TRAYVON” and “I AM NOT TRAYVON” sentiments, and we can iron out any shirt wrinkles along the way.

The Game Elite team aren’t the only group of young people wearing their feelings on their chest. The “Dream Defenders”, a group of young people from Florida who wear t-shirts that say “Be the Power” and “Can we DREAM Together”

The Dream Defenders believe in organizing and training young folks and students in nonviolent civil disobedience, and direct action. They have occupied  the Florida statehouse for the last 12 days outside the offices of Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, to demand that the governor convene a special legislative session to enact the Trayvon Martin Act, which would end the stand your ground laws in Florida, create laws against racial profiling and other reforms to advance the government’s social policy. They have committed to stay put until Governor Scott calls the special session.

Said Curtis Hierro, a University of Central Florida graduate who has slept on the floor of the Capitol for 13 nights straight:

“This isn’t a game to us. We’ve transformed the governor’s office into our own space. We’re very serious about this work. We’re here until this crisis is addressed.”

The AAU tournament was also more than a game to Altlanta’s Game Elite. Coach Ryan Falker told Yahoo Sports:

“It was refreshing for me to see how dialed in they were to a social issue outside of basketball. Usually for many of them, it’s school and basketball and that’s it. But it was good to see they were surprised, they were shocked and they were affected when the verdict came out. I was happy to see that they cared.”

Unfortunately, not all sports media outlets cared as much, but some did.

Matt Norlander from CBS Sports and Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports should be commended for their original coverage, and the story was also covered by NBC SportsSlamonline, Bleacher ReportSports GridThe Grio, Black Blue Dog, and others.

The biggest omissions of national coverage were ESPN, The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, and Fox Sports.

Now, does anyone think if these young men got into a brawl during the Vegas Tournament, that they wouldn’t be covered?

Most notably, ESPN chose not to cover this story.

ESPN is singled out because there is almost nothing (negative) a young Black athlete can do to avoid an ESPN story.

Is it because, ESPN does not care about AAU basketball?

Nope, they were all over this Vegas tournament have posted 58 articles and videos just in this month.

Is it because ESPN doesn’t care about the reaction to the Zimmerman verdict?

Nope, when Victor Cruz tweeted a controversial reaction, ESPN posted articles, video of his apology, and debated it on Mike and Mike.

Is it because ESPN doesn’t care about T-shirt statements?

Nope, last week they issued: “Butler Tweets Apology for Vulgar T-Shirt” which opened:

“Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler tweeted an apology on Tuesday for a photo on the Internet of him wearing a t-shirt with a vulgar phrase from a song by rapper Lil’ Wayne.”

Let’s analyze ESPN’s standards to get an article.

It is Jimmy Butler… ESPN is discussing his TWEET… About his Lil’ Wayne inspired T-shirt…

Which is more notable than the statement of a team of young unified men wearing “I AM TRAYVON” T-shirts.

So why didn’t ESPN cover this story?

Note: This article first appeared on

One Comment

  1. Kalonji

    August 7, 2013 at 5:10 am

    Great! I have plans to create one (yeah I design T-shirts) IamAfro •

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