Why Today’s Social Justice Activism Doesn’t Work in Sports

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

When the NBA announced they would start the playoffs again July 31st, few were sure what to expect. No one could imagine the near sweep of the Houston Rockets by the LA Lakers. More farfetched than that was the Denver Nuggets 4-3 victory over the LA Clippers. To top this off, many could not have foreseen the amount of BLM support that would be shown by the NBA and by the players of the league.


This development has, however, caused mixed feelings. It’s not hard to understand the players desire (or pressure) to become more involved with the police brutality fight. NBA players in particular have been criticized in the past for not using their platform for social issues. The social justice trend from athletes re-emerged after we saw NFL ex-QB Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem for the first time in 2016. This sparked a national conversation around policing practices, but not much has fundamentality changed besides the introduction of body cameras on police. So this year, following the death of George Floyd, the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA agreed upon a list of soical justice messages to place on the backs of jerseys and warm-ups. This list includes: Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, I Can’t Breathe, Enough, Power to the People, Justice Now, Say Her Name, Liberation, See Us, Hear Us, Respect Us, Love Us, Listen to Us, Stand Up, Anti-Racist, I Am A Man, Speak Up and How Many More.