The social justice campaign has taken the country by storm since the killing of unarmed Ahmaud Arbery. He went for a jog near a construction site and was followed and later shot by three white men. The worst part about this entire scenario is that the killers were not arrested until 74 days after the shooting.
This and the death of George Floyd sparked people to take action. It moved people all over the country including athletes. Athletes from every sport came together to take action, some went on social media and others joined the front lines to join social protests.
Even front offices took action, like those in the MLB.
In each professional sports venue, they found new ways to honor the movement and educate those that were misinformed. Most cases featured athletes taking a knee during the anthem, but in some post-game interviews, players avoided answering questions and just demanded justice like Celtics Forward Jaylen Brown. Arguably one of the most vocal players about the cause, Brown made multiple pre-game statements by wearing impactful shirts.
The league also allowed players to customize the back of their jerseys with a message they advocated for. Players wrote things like vote, black lives matter, or even we matter, to name a few.
The NBA even shot a short commercial with the players down in the bubble addressing the Black Lives Matter campaign. Take a look:
The call for change didn’t stop with the players in the NBA, analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith walked out live on his TNT set to claim his solidarity with the players.
Players took great interest in Breonna Taylor’s case too. A black woman that was killed in her sleep during a botched raid in her apartment.
The officers had a no-knock warrant allowing them to do as the name says, enter without knocking. Police suspected that Breonna’s apartment was involved in a drug operation, but there were no drugs found on the scene. The police shot her five times, Breonna died within minutes.
The NFL and its players took a different approach to tackle this issue. It seemed as if they wouldn’t say anything until Superbowl MVP Patrick Mahomes came together with a few other players to release a video about change.
After the video was released, it was almost like a snowball effect because everything started changing around the league. Each team has a custom message on their end zones saying things like “end racism,” or “equality.” Players also have custom messages written on the bottom of their helmets, albeit small, it’s still visible.
Arguably the most dramatic change came in the offseason when the league announced that the Washington Redskins would no longer have that title because the name was offensive. Their name is simply the Washington Football Team.
Even soccer leagues in other countries are supporting the Black Lives Matter Campaign. They kneel during the anthem and raise their fist in solidarity.
None of these changes could have happened if the players didn’t come together as a unified front to demand change. People are finally starting to pay attention to some of the crimes black people have had to endure in this country.
A lot of this is thanks to athletes speaking up and peacefully protesting. It won’t happen overnight, but change is certainly coming.