Contributor

Shut Up and Dribble; Athletes for BLM

Athletes use their platforms to take stand against police brutality and social injustice

Ethan Hibbard

Two years ago, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham criticized NBA star Lebron James for voicing his thoughts on social and political issues, stating that she didn’t want to hear the political opinions of someone who is paid to “bounce a ball.” She went on to recommend he just “shut up and dribble.” Now more than ever, athletes across all sports are using their platforms to inspire change and inform on the country’s social issues. Here’s a look at some of the efforts from two major sports leagues to create a safer world for all, instead of shutting up and dribbling. The NBA Player’s Association had lengthy talks about returning to play during the pandemic, with one major reason being that amid the fallout from the murder of George Floyd, there were more important issues to focus on than a basketball season. Once they did decide to return and finish their season, the entire platform was set up to support the Black Lives Matter movement. On each of the courts, “Black Lives Matter” is written in large letters for all spectators to see. Also, players had the option to have 1 of 29 short messages written on the backs of their jersey, including “I Can’t Breathe,”
“How Many More,” and “Say Her Name.” In the wake of the most recent display of police brutality, the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team refused to play their playoff game, inspiring other NBA teams along with professional baseball and soccer teams to do the same. In response to the playoff boycott, the NBA and its players association came to an agreement to return to play in exchange for converting NBA arenas into polling locations for the 2020 election. On top of all of this, the NBA Board of
Governors and NBA Players Association finalized the creation of the first NBA Foundation to help bring economic growth to the Black community, with a plan to donate $300 million over the next 10 years. Ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality in America, there has been pushback from the NFL. All the recent events painted a picture for the world to see what Kaepernick was kneeling for, prompting commissioner Roger Goodell to apologize for not siding with players in the past. Since the season began Sept. 10, players have added messages on the back of their helmets in support of equality and the BLM movement. In the end zones, the words “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us” are stamped on the field. The singing of the national anthem, which players are allowed to sit, kneel, stand, or remain in the locker room for, also takes place, followed by the song “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” often referred to as the Black national anthem. Players have also come up with
their own ideas to spread their message. In the first NFL game of the season, quarterbacks for the Texans and Chiefs organized a pregame “moment of unity” where both teams lined up and linked arms in a moment of silence with hopes of spreading positivity during these uncertain times. Finally, the NFL is also donating money to charities made to “combat systemic racism and support the battle against injustices faced by African Americans.” These donations will total $250 million over the next 10 years. Members of MLB, NHL, The US Open, MLS, NASCAR, Premier League, Formula One, and Champions League have also shown support. The point is, there’s no hiding from these issues any longer. No matter what sport fans watch, athletes, both Black and white, have had enough and are using their platform to make change. These athlete activists won’t shut up and dribble any time soon.

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