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God Bless Ira Newble!

May 29, 2007

I don’t write about sports figures on this blog.  Until today. 

To be honest until recently I had never even heard of Ira Newble.  I just don’t follow sports.  When I do tune in there seems to be stories about a baseball player on steroids, or a football player wanting more cash.  Those stories make me ill.  So when the wonderful news about Ira Newble started to filter in to me over the past few weeks I paid attention.  His determination to effect change in Darfur has struck a chord with me.  The Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player is using his professional connections to try and make a real difference in the world.  I don’t hear that often from the sports world.

Newble has announced his plan to collect NBA players’ signatures for a petition titled “Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur.” Ultimately, Newble wants to stop the genocide against tribal populations in the Darfur region of Sudan; the Sudanese government uses Arab militia groups for the killing.  So far they have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of African civilians and created 2 million refugees.   My readers know I feel the lack of world reaction to the slaughter is a moral failing, and that future generations will ask why we were so timid and heartless in the face of the facts.  That feeling is aimed at both political parties, and especially George Bush, and the 2004 candidacy of the inept John Kerry along with those Democrats who excused him for not fighting over this issue.

Newble has a high paying job, and could very well look the other way.  But bless him, as his conscience will not allow it.  “I get to play basketball for a living, and I love it. That’s my job, but it isn’t all there is to me. Women and children are being raped. Innocent people are being murdered or displaced from their homes. I can’t stand by and do nothing.”

If only the President of the United States had as much inner angst over Darfur as Newble has.  Newble’s petition targets China, which is hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics but also buys about two-thirds of Sudan’s oil. The Sudanese government uses most of its oil profits to buy weapons and aircraft, two-thirds of which are made by China. The weapons are often used to slaughter the people of Darfur.

China has blocked U.N. efforts to send a peacekeeping force into Darfur. Newble joins other activists in calling for China to pressure the Sudanese government’s Khartoum regime to allow peacekeepers into the region.

An article about Darfur by scholar Eric Reeves, an English professor at Smith College, ignited Newble’s activism. He talked to Reeves, did more research and then assembled two pages of facts about the genocide and slipped the sheets into his teammates lockers.

“I called them together and said, Guys, I put some information in your lockers. It’s an issue I’m getting involved in. Read it, and we’ll talk about it.”

Newble is casting a wide net, reaching out to the 400-plus NBA players as well as athletes in the NFL and in Major League Baseball.  (I bet every penny I have that Brett Favre will not sign it!) He’s also hoping for the support of his childhood hero, Muhammad Ali. It’s a lot of work, but he’s in for the long haul.

“This is bigger than sports, bigger than basketball,” Newble said. “This is about human beings, and how they are dying at an alarming rate because we are standing by and doing nothing.”

I am glad that my first post about a sports figure turned out to be Ira Newble.  I suspect it will not be my last about this fine human being.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2007 10:56 PM

    I think that Brett Favre at the time of this post had been playing with the public about his plans for the future with the Packers. I found his antics tasteless. Rich boys that pout in public are not my thing.

    Seoond, though I do not follow sports I do read about sports personalities. Also having once lived near Green Bay while working in radio one gets to know things. I do not like the man.

    And so did Brett sign the letter?

  2. Aaron Pierce permalink
    December 28, 2007 10:10 PM

    you said: “Newble is casting a wide net, reaching out to the 400-plus NBA players as well as athletes in the NFL and in Major League Baseball. (I bet every penny I have that Brett Favre will not sign it!) He’s also hoping for the support of his childhood hero, Muhammad Ali.”

    I am confused. Why is Brett Favre mentioned here? You even stated you don’t follow sports. Mr. Favre does do a lot of charity work, so I am not sure why you would say he wouldn’t sign the petition for Darfur.

  3. Aaron Coleman permalink
    June 5, 2007 1:10 AM

    I just saw the video clip on CNN.com and I’m so impressed. So many of us have been working for so long to get any recognition about this genocide and finally some people who have a more public voice are speaking out and urging others to do so as well. Ira, if you read this… keep it up, you’re a model athlete and individual. Save Darfur.

  4. Vickie permalink
    June 2, 2007 11:52 AM

    The Ira Newble/NBA/Darfur information is a wonderful human interest story. It is a refreshing change to read something with some real content. Let’s each one step up and commit to telling someone about what’s going on. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it? Way to go Ira!

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