Social Justice in Sports


In light of recent events, there have been many attempts to change certain operations to cater towards a more inclusive world.  Within schools and businesses and even neighborhoods with “Justice Now” yard signs, this is a major topic.  The changes being made have to deal with police brutality and systemic racism.  With changes across the board, how will professional sports handle this?

NFL Changes

The NFL, which has perhaps had the most attention in this area because of players kneeling during the national anthem, is planning on making a change to the pregame routine.  During Week 1, the league has opted to play both “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” as well as “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the games.  The former is often referred to as the Black national anthem.  To go along with this, the league “is also considering listing the names of victims on uniforms through decals on helmets or patches on jerseys. The NFL also may produce educational programs about victims, among other plans” (Reid).  Over the next decade, the NFL plans to donate $250 million to social justice related work as well.  

NBA and Collegiate Changes

To go along with the NFL’s potential use of patches, the NBA and a Power Five college football team are also going to incorporate jersey patches.  The NBA has decided to include social justice patches on team uniforms when play resumes later this month.  The NBA and the players’ union said back in late June that “the goal of the season restart in Orlando will be to take collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice” (Greif).  To go along with this, the Wisconsin football team will wear a patch with the school’s W logo in black on their jerseys.  

Name Changes

This has also sparked changes to team names as well.  Washington D.C.’s football team, formerly the Washington Redskins, has announced that they will be changing their team name.  The MLB’s Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves could be next for new names as well.  Some collegiate teams could also potentially change their names. 


A lot in the country will likely change soon and sports are no exception.  These decisions have created different reactions as well, from support to outrage.  It will be interesting to see what overall changes are made to all major sports leagues.  


Bevington, Max. “Wisconsin to Wear Patches on Uniforms for Unity, Inclusion.” FanSided, FanSided, 15 July 2020, fansided.com/2020/07/15/wisconsin-wear-patches-uniforms-unity-inclusion/.

Greif, Andrew. “NBA and Players’ Union Agree on Social Justice Plan.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 24 June 2020, www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-06-24/nba-players-union-agree-on-social-justice-plan.

Reid, Jason. “Source: NFL Plans to Play Black National Anthem before Week 1 Games.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 2 July 2020, www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/29401000/nfl-plans-play-black-national-anthem-week-1-games.

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