Photo Credit to Ted Crowe, see Wednesday & Thursdays @cleveland.com
When talking about sports and social causes, it is inevitable to bring the most popular sport in the world into the discussion. Soccer is the most-watched sport numbering in hundreds of millions of people, of all ages, genres, social classes. With the rising of social media, it has also gone beyond just being a sport. Famous players, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, and Neymar are among the most followed accounts on Instagram. This would be from all accounts, not only in the sports world.
With social media being a platform with such a great potential to impact people throughout the world, we still have not seen these players using it to talk about big social causes. Megan Rapinoe, who won the award for the best soccer player in 2019, has been clear on the issue. That said, she heard only silence since these players still haven’t spoken out.
George Floyd Affect
The death of George Floyd earlier this month and countless other lives were taken that have come to light in recent years. The Black Lives Matter movement has become even more prevalent. Now, with all eyes on the most well-known athletes of the world, everyone is looking to these players to take the lead. Will they use their platforms to take a stance and spread awareness. Sports is a primary form of entertainment and growing so rapidly. The sports industry, sports leagues, and players have exploded. With this advancement, the roles of players’ have heightened. It is crucial for athletes to be “more than an athlete.”
NBA Players Move to Make Impact
In light of recent social justice issues across the world, many sports leagues are beginning to change aspects of their sport in order to create a progressive and more welcoming environment for players and fans alike. With the NBA set to restart on July 30th, the NBA is considering allowing players to wear jerseys with personalized social justice, or charity messages instead of their names.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul who happens to also be the National Basketball Players Association President had this to say about the reasoning behind the jersey idea, “We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out. People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.” We hope the commissioner and other board members allow for this to happen. It would represent a significant moment in NBA history.
The NBA has always been one of the top leagues when it comes to speaking out. Their record on social issues around the world is unmatched. By players being able to voice their support on their jerseys shows how the NBA is willing to adapt. The support of its players during unprecedented times like these is not surprising. NBA Players Wear Social Justice Messages
NASCAR Takes Major Step
Another unlikely organization has stepped up for change in NASCAR. NASCAR is an American auto racing organization known best for their stock-car racing. A major decision made by head officials at NASCAR was the removal of the Confederate flag. In American history, it has a negative meaning attached to it. The flag represents slavery to many. It also represents a time in American culture the nation was divided.
NASCAR came out with a statement stating, “The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.” This decision by NASCAR represents a huge shift in their culture. As the movements around the U.S. and al around the world continue to progress, hopefully, other organizations and athletes will begin to voice their opinions on these matters more. NASCAR Statement on Confederate Flag
So, the lessons from this is to take the steps yourself to be the product of change. Ask your favorite IG players where they stand. Feel free to express yourself in this time of change. If not now when are you ever going to voice your opinion or ask that of others? The paradigm shift is approaching. You will either be part of the change or a bystander watching from the sidelines.
Continue to be safe! We can’t wait to see you on the beach again!! We can celebrate our sport and make a difference in each other’s lives!