Social Protest & Sports
Supporting Social Change in Sports
Throughout the history of sports, whenever an athlete has attempted to socially protest, they have been met with the barriers of society, business, and politics. In order to overcome these barriers, the power of the players within their respective sports organizations must be raised. In this paper, we put forth the proposal of a Social Justice Coalition, which is a coalition consisting of representatives sent by their respective sports’ league to create a united voice, increase their bargaining power, and advocate for societal change.
Political issues have consumed professional sports and third-party interests have overpowered the entertainment aspect in exchange for pushing social agendas. Politics in sports has proven to be almost too great of a challenge, but the WMBA has found a way to overcome it. They have created their own solution to eliminate racism and bias through their league known as the WNMA/WNBPA Social Justice Council. This council sheds light on many important social issues such as race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control. Our solution takes a page out of the WMBA’s book and proposes the creation of a Sports League Coalition where representatives from all major sports in America come together to address the societal, corporate, and political challenges that plague athletes who are attempting to affect social change in America.
Society acts as a barrier because most people hold the common misconception that sports and society are separate ecosystems. These people believe that sports feature a completely equal playing field with none of the injustices that plague society. This, however, is a misconception as sports are a reflection of society and contain the issues that expose society’s inequality. Society resists and rejects athletes that want to advocate for social change because they don’t think there is a need for change. This thought must be changed if the barrier that is society is to ever be changed. In order for this to happen, the voices of the players must be uplifted so they themselves can influence society.
A strong understanding of sports as a business is essential to understanding sports. This business is a multifaceted one with owners, fans, and of course the players. Businesses make the decision best for their financial interest, and when sponsors leverage the power they have to influence the decisions made in the sports industry, they can retract sponsorships because of a political stance taken by a sports organization.
If other sports leagues could get behind the idea that the WNBA and WNBPA have created, then social change in sports could be achievable. The creation of a Sports League Coalition would allow representatives from all major sports in America to come together to address the societal, corporate, and political challenges that plague athletes who are trying to affect social change in America. By mimicking and expounding upon the idea that the WNBA created in the form of its Social Justice Council, a national Sports Leagues Coalition would serve as a unified platform where athletes, coaches, managers, and owners would come together to discuss important societal issues, band together, create a workable solution, and use their power to create change.
The Teen Think Tank Project: Our Story
This mini-doc provide a behind-the-scenes look into the Teen Think Tank Project’s Winter Research Cohort motivation, process, and findings as they embarked on a 12-week journey to explore racial inequality in America, society, and sports.
- Jack Baranoski (Archbishop Wood, ’22)
- Jared Cannon (Archbishop Wood, ’22)
- Jeremy Cimino (Archbishop Wood, ’22)
- Gwyneth Craney (Archbishop Wood, ’22)
- Nolan Eichorn (Archbishop Wood, ’22)
What They are Saying
Matthew DeSantis is the Co-Founder of the Teen Think Tank Project. He has worked with socially conscious teens from across the globe to explore social justice issues ranging from climate change, racial equity, access to healthcare, financial stability, and educational equality. His has allowed him to connect with over 100 teen change agents and subject matter experts who are passionate about their work to solve societal issues. Through his work, he has co-authored and edited four policy framework papers and facilitated a number of panel discussions and presentations aimed at elevating the voices of teen change agents.