Utah athletes, coaches team up in new 'Lead Together' video to promote inclusion

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Sports franchises across Utah are coming together to "Lead Together" in a new effort unveiled Friday by the Utah Jazz with a new promotional video.

Lead Together is "a long-term commitment to cultivating and promoting a community culture of inclusion and belonging," according to the Jazz.

The 60-second video will be shown at sporting events across the state.

The effort to do so is shown in a new PSA featuring many familiar faces from Utah sports:

  • Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz)
  • Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels, former Salt Lake Bees plater)
  • Kyle Beckerman, Nedum Onuoha (Real Salt Lake)
  • Nathan Chen (Olympic figure skater)
  • Verónica Boquete, Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals, FIFA Women's World Cup)
  • Tony Finau (professional golfer)
  • Kyle Whittingham (Head football coach, University of Utah)
  • Kalani Sitake (Head football coach, BYU)
  • Gary Anderson (Head football coach, Utah State University)
  • Jay Hill (Head football coach, Weber State University)

This comes after a few recent negative incidents between fans and athletes.

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Just this week, a University of Utah fan sent an expletive-laced direct message on Twitter to Arizona State University football player Evan Fields following his ejection for targeting running back Zach Moss.

On March 12, the Utah Jazz permanently banned a fan who "aggressively taunted" Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook with racist language.

Both "fans" have since apologized.

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Members of the Lead Together video, who pledged to stand against discrimination, inequality, injustice, and racism, said:

We need to take responsibility when the words we hear cause pain, anger, and divisiveness. Be mindful of what you say. If you hear something wrong, offensive or hateful, speak up.

Gail Miller, owner, chairperson of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and the Utah Jazz said:

Everyone who walks through the doors of a sporting event, whether it’s a fan, staff member, coach, player, or guest, should expect courtesy, respect, common decency and civility. We are united in our values, and we’re all joining together as citizens of our communities and the state of Utah to make a clear statement about who we are and what we’re about. Words matter. No one wins when respect goes away.

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The Jazz got the idea for "Lead Together" from a similar effort by New England sports teams.

The Jazz consulted with Boston Red Sox President Sam Kenned and Vice President of Fan Services and Entertainment Sarah McKenna to help craft a message that has an impact state-wide as well as best practices for implementing such practices. The Jazz also

The Jazz also worked locally, seeking input on diversity, inclusion, and belonging from leaders across Utah.

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Emma E. Houston, inclusion director for Salt Lake County’s Office of Diversity Affairs, said:

We appreciated the willingness of the Utah Jazz organization to not only seek advice but embrace it. Our conversations were frank, instructive and productive. Respect is something to be shared and we are all responsible for our own words, deeds and actions. We should enthusiastically cheer for our favorite teams to win. However, words used to disparage the other team create a disrespectful environment that no one should be a part of. We all need to be courageous enough to speak up by taking the lead against disrespectful conduct.

Also using "Lead Together" is the Junior Jazz program, which serves 60,000 players in seven states. They will focus the message to youth o sportsmanship, fair play, and respect on the court.