What Does BLM Mean to Athletes?
Updated: Feb 20
This past year has brought a racial reckoning like no other, forcing the world to confront the horrific legacy of racism head-on. While we still have a long way to go, let’s celebrate and acknowledge African Americans’ accomplishments and achievements and reflect on their constant fight for equality and liberty.
The Black Lives Matter protests and movements have truly been a wake-up call, not only for ordinary citizens but also for major organizations and leagues! This movement has been around for quite some time, starting in 2013, yet gained worldwide outcry seven years later. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created #BlackLivesMatter, which expanded into the organization that played a significant role in the overall Black Lives Matter movement. It strives to intervene in a society where Black lives are targeted and discriminated against, solidifying their unity and resilience to oppression.
It has taken professional sports leagues quite a while to spread awareness about the movement. They have now started advocating for social justice with jerseys, slogans, and social media. While many high profile athletes have shared their stories and experiences, many women athletes do not gain the same traction and coverage as men do. Their stories are equally as valid, and their activism is equally as important.
Women in Sports & Their Stance on BLM WNBA: Both the NBA and WNBA have taken a leading role in the sports world by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and celebrating Black history. For years now, the WNBA has protested and condemned police brutality.
The WNBA has taken a position in honoring Black women by putting “Black Lives Matter” on the fronts of their warm-up jerseys and “Say Her Name” on the backs, referring to Breonna Taylor.
They have also become involved with modern politics. For instance, the WNBA showed their opposition to Senator Kelly Loeffler in her campaign against Senator Raphael Warnock because she disagrees with BLM.
Players have shown up to Black Lives Matter protests, speaking out against police brutality and using their social platforms to spread awareness to their audiences.
National Women’s Soccer League: The women’s soccer team has continued to show their alliance and support to worldwide issues and causes; feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equality.
They arrived at the 2020 Challenge Cup with Black Lives Matter shirts over their jerseys.
The U.S women’s sports team wore warm-up jackets with ‘Black Lives Matter’ displayed boldly in red, white, and blue. As they celebrate America and play proudly for their country, they emphasize that American liberties and freedoms are meant to be extended to everyone, no matter their skin color.
Players themselves have taken to their social media and the team accounts, enlightening followers on the issue and providing resources.
Some kneeled during the national anthem, which was initially banned but later lifted, to protest against injustice silently.
Many individual athletes and Olympians have also voiced their opinion and have used technology and social platforms to reach a wider audience. Athletes such as Serena Williams and Simone Biles have shared their personal experiences with racism and maltreatment to bring awareness that this is still a pressing issue to this day.
Let’s continue celebrating the achievements and obstacles Black people have overcome to create change and progression, not just during Black History Month but throughout the whole year. The fight never ends. We will continue to use our platforms to educate ourselves and others, amplify marginalized voices, spread awareness, and support a better society for everyone.
Follow and support Black athletes to learn about their stories - it is such a valuable and personal way to become more educated and involved. Stand up against racism within your sports communities. And most importantly, confront your biases and commit to continuous growth towards allyship. BLM is more than just a trend and a hashtag- involvement doesn’t end with just a repost or a like. Activism, by its name, is meant to be active. And as athletes, we must embody and defend those ideals, both on and off the court.