Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale spoke at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. Ogunbowale's 5 minute talk is succinct and on point; but the part that really stuck with me, was the final few minutes of his talk (transcribed below).
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) July 26, 2016
"No matter where we come from or what our lives were like before we got to campus for all of our differences we are the same in so many ways.
Sports can have that impact, just look at crowds filling up the stadiums to watch us play or even look at everyone who is here today to celebrate Big Ten football. People who some would say are different from one another but in reality we aren't that different at all because we are here for the same reason.
Because of our roles as college football players we've been challenged with another task, or as I see it another opportunity, to use our amplified voices to help others view the world like we do. You don't have to look far today to see the reminders of things that divide us. There are forces in our society acting to pull us apart or just to show us how different we are from each other.
But the coaches and players in this room are blessed with another perspective. Every day we come together and have the opportunity to see past the differences on the surface and truly understand the ties that bind us all together as we pursue a common goal. In our world the things that make us different, the unique things that each member of our team brings to the table aren't things that divide us they are pieces that fit together that make us complete, that make us a team. But why not carry that mindset beyond the locker room or beyond the stadium and carry that mindset in our every day lives. But now encourage others to share the same view.
In close what I'm trying to say is that if we can use our qualities to take command of society just as we do on the field we can make a difference, a big difference. Being in our position we've been blessed with a collection of characteristics and gifts and through these roles we've been able to make people smile, solve problems, conquer obstacles and most importantly be leaders.
We're all leaders. So, the next time you hear someone react to what is going on in the world by saying "somebody should do something", know that you have everything it takes to be that somebody."
A wonderful example of this was seen over the past month in Baton Rouge, LA. Racial tensions were heightened in the city after a police officer shot a black man. Les Miles and his staff spoke with their players about the issues involved and encouraged them to speak up for their beliefs. A large number of former LSU athletes, many highly successful in the professional ranks, came back to Baton Rouge and voiced their feelings as well. Two Sundays ago, a heinous thug committed an unspeakable act in targeting and assassinating police officers. Miles, his players and staff once again spoke up, to a man condemning this atrocious act and calling for an absolute halt to all violence.
It has only been 11 days since that cowardly act; but the violence has stopped and tensions are far calmer than before. The community is hurt; but it is coming together. Wisconsin's Ogunbowale should be proud of his brethren from LSU, they saw something wrong and weren't afraid to do something about it.
That is leadership, and our country needs more of it.