The Boston Athletics Association (BAA) apologized on Friday for scheduling its annual Boston Marathon on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The BAA put out a statement last week apologizing to Native Americans who felt “unheard” or “erased” by the race being scheduled on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 11. The BAA pledged to take a number of steps after the apparent oversight such as meeting with tribal representatives and adopting a number of pro-Native American activities into its schedule. According to the BAA:
Prior to the start of the Boston Marathon, a land acknowledgement will take place to recognize that the race travels through Indigenous homelands. The B.A.A. is better understanding the trauma experienced over centuries by the Indigenous People who lived on these lands, and we will work with the Federal and State Recognized Tribes on this land acknowledgment.
The B.A.A. will donate to the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Newton Committee working through its fiscal agent, Newton Community Pride, and intended to support the work of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Newton Committee, to fund their first-ever Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration.
The B.A.A. will celebrate Indigenous runners, Ellison Brown (Narragansett, champion of the 1936 and 1939 races) and Patti Catalano Dillon (Mi’kmaq, three-time runner-up), through its banner program across Boston. The B.A.A. will also recognize another champion, Tom Longboat from 1907, as well as other top Native American finishers in race history, through campaigns, features, and programming.
The B.A.A. will recognize Indigenous athletes participating in the 125th Boston Marathon over race weekend and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In planning for Boston Marathon weekend and race day, the B.A.A. will continue to work with Indigenous runners and organizations who seek to strengthen Native youth and families through running. More information on this programming will be shared when it is finalized.
The BAA announcement is the latest instance of sports organizations, leagues, and teams mixing social justice messaging into their events. The trend blew up since the death of George Floyd last year, which sparked a wave of protests and riots as well as a push to defund police departments over alleged systemic racism.
On the anniversary of Floyd’s death in May, sports leagues put out a variety of statements all honoring the man, who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
The NBA said: “One year ago, the killing of George Floyd advanced a global reckoning around systemic racism and inspired a movement for social justice. Today and every day, members of the NBA family stand united in working for change and a future that provides true equality.”
The WNBA added: “Today marks one year since the murder of George Floyd, and one year of concerted and collective action toward a more just future for all Americans. The WNBA family continues to advocate for social justice, and to represent a voice for the voiceless to make a meaningful difference.”
The NFL stated: “As we mark one year since the murder of George Floyd, out thoughts are with the Floyd family and all who have been affected by his death. This has been a year filled with reflection and reckoning, and that has renewed our commitment to build and strengthen our communities. The work for equitable justice must continue and the NFL and its clubs are proud to work alongside NFL players to build a more just society. #InspireChange”