ESPN is premiering, “The Announcement” by Nelson George, following in the footsteps of other riveting sports related documentaries. The film is about Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his announcement on November 7th, 1991 of his contraction of the HIV Virus and his subsequent retirement from basketball. Like many at this time, it was a shock and considered a death sentence in the perception of society because of the ignorance of what having the HIV Virus could result. It was a major wake up call because no one of this stature in sport had ever admitted of having this virus. This announcement led to widespread speculation, rumor and prejudice within society and among NBA circles. Ignorance led to so many letting their thoughts and personal beliefs about the stigma of HIV become known and everyone had their ears open.
Amongst all the controversy and ignorance became something even more important and impactful. The need for education about HIV and AIDS became paramount for society to truly understand what they were dealing with. Magic Johnson was now the face of HIV and here was a golden opportunity for him to do something possibly greater than when he and others revived the NBA during the 1980s. Johnson not only embraced the opportunity to educate, but he also took the opportunity to demonstrate that a person can go on with the business of living. Magic Johnson is still healthy, a thriving entrepreneur and has indirectly created the atmosphere of willingness in society to become educated about HIV and AIDS.
Magic Johnson’s story has yet to be concluded, but his impact will forever remain. On Sports Kings Radio, there became a “heated” discussion on whether or not he was obligated to disclose his HIV status. As a citizen of the United States, Magic Johnson was not obligated to disclose anything to society. He could have chosen to retire quietly, go away from public view, never to be heard from again. This was his right to do so as a grown man. However, in a time when society wants greater responsibility from its athletes, Magic Johnson chose the road less traveled and became a citizen for humanity, choosing the greater good of others and forsaking his own privacy. This selfless act should be put in a greater context, casting no doubt that lives have been saved and the course of some lives have been altered.
Jamie Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @coachjdub21
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