Soccer For All

FC Dallas defender Ryan Hollingshead: MLS players must use their platform

Ryan Hollingshead - FC Dallas - tight shot

FC Dallas defender Ryan Hollingshead knows that, all things considered, his platform isn’t the biggest. In the national pecking order of sports, he doesn’t have the same resonances as bonafide stars that dominate SportsCenter or sports talk radio.

The 29-year-old isn’t discouraged by that, but rather invigorated when seeing players across the league boycotting five of six games on Wednesday night. FCD were slated to host the Colorado Rapids, and instead took a stand around racial equality and police brutality, with the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin acting as the latest example.

“I want to be clear, because I’m not sure how big our platform is or how big it’s not, but if you care about any issue, no matter how big your platform is, you’re going to use whatever platform you have to preach that issue,” Hollingshead said on Thursday’s episode of Extratime. “This is our moment and this is our time. It doesn’t matter if we have 2,000 fans in the stadium or a million fans watching us on TV. Whatever the numbers are, it’s like we as human beings care about an issue, what platform we have to preach that issue. And we’re going to use that platform as much as we can.”

That proud stance, Hollingshead explained, can have businesses repercussions for club. He recalled a conversation with FC Dallas president Dan Hunt, where financial blowback isn’t impacting their commitment to Black lives improving across the United States.

“In that statement he said, ‘Guys we’ve already lost season-ticket members, we’ve already lost supporters, we have sponsors already lined up to drop us next year because of what we’ve done, because of the stance we’ve taken for the Black Lives Matter movement so far,” Hollingshead said, channeling Hunt’s remarks. “And he’s like, ‘This is a business, we care to make money here. But I want you guys all to hear from me, this organization and my soul is not for sale. These guys cannot buy our loyalty, they cannot buy our social stances, they can’t buy our messaging. We decide that as a club, and it’s clear as a club we need to stand against injustice and so we’re going to do that.’ It was a really powerful message and showed how much Dan cares about this.”

In a similar vein, Hollingshead addressed how there’s sometimes blowback when speaking up in support of BLM. Specifically, Hollingshead witnessed the hatred thrown towards FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon when their team kneeled during the national anthem of an Aug. 12 match against Nashville SC.

Cannon’s faced death threats, and vitriol has come Hollingshead’s way as well. But he’s not deterred by them, and if anything receives affirmation. 

“These threats, to me, are almost just like proof that I’m doing what I should be doing, proof that I’m walking the right path, because the path for me is narrow that leads to life and it’s wide that leads to death,” Hollingshead said, referencing his Christian faith. “So if I’m on a narrow path, it’s going to be full of these sorts of comments, full of these death threats. It pumps me up, honestly, and I’m like I can handle it, I’m a grown man, I have a good mentality, I can handle these threats. 

“Throw all the threats you want at me. If it means I’m standing next to my brother, if it means Reggie gets one less threat because I got 100 more, I’ll take that in a heartbeat. So that’s my mentality for it and I’m a white privileged male who’s been set up for success in every potential way my entire life. I can take a couple comments, you know what I mean?”

For more from Hollingshead, check out the entire Extratime episode here.