It’s no secret that many American athletes were not President Trump supporters, to say the least. Trump’s vocal opposition to NFL players taking a knee during the star-spangled banner, to his seeming insensitivity to Black Lives Matter protests, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights led to much criticism from the sports community. The traditionally coveted visit to the White House for a championship team was often boycotted over the past four years, and this past spring, both the WNBA and the NBA and individual players used their platforms to encourage people to register and vote. LeBron James was one of the most active athletes to promote voter registration. He created the More Than A Vote campaign and recruited tens of thousands of people to work as poll workers during the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic (see our article LeBron James’ More Than a Vote Initiative Has Recruited 10,000 Poll Workers). Even Michael Jordan, who famously said “Republicans buy sneakers, too” in order to decline making any public political endorsements, has since become an activist through his brand, promoting the Black Community, equal opportunity and equal justice (see our article Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand Launches UNITE: Action With Words).
On the other hand, President-elect Joe Biden showed himself to be a friend of many athletes, notably to the U.S. Women’s Soccer players who have been suing U.S. Soccer for equal pay. He actually had tweeted on May 2nd after a judge shot down the USWNT lawsuit:
To @USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet.
To @USSoccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding.
So, it was not a surprise to see many athletes celebrating the Biden/Harris win on social media. You can see Bleacher Report’s compilation of some athlete’s Twitter reactions here:
This year was notable for how politics played such a prominent role in the world of sports. Sports brands like Nike, (see our article Nike Has Gone All-In To Get Out The Vote) Under Armor, Footlocker, The North Face, and Patagonia got in on the action of promoting civic engagement.
We now know that all of this additional conversation had a significant impact. The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout ever with two-thirds of the eligible voting population participating in the election – a percentage that hasn’t been seen since the 1900s. It will be interesting to see how this activism continues over the coming months and the ways that athletes, sports leagues and businesses can continue to influence change for numerous social movements. We will be covering this topic so be sure to turn to us for coverage.
While the election is over, we still have to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to wreak havoc on the fields and across the country. Stay up to date with our reporting on the NFL season, as well as our off-season updates for the NHL, NBA, MLB and Soccer.
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