Pro athletes lead the charge in 2020 culture war

In 2020, sports figures are the strongest voices of progressive reform

Professional athletes are making their voices heard in the charge toward social justice and police reform. (Photo courtesy of

In an era when human decency and non-politicized love for our fellow humans has all but disappeared from the cultural norm, it’s not politicians who are leading the charge toward a better tomorrow; it is professional athletes. Now it is up to all of us to hear them out and follow their lead.

2020 has been an unprecedented year full of sadness and despair, in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also because of the extreme number of cases involving unnecessary police violence against people of color. George Floyd died as a result of an officer’s knee on his neck, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back during a traffic stop and Breonna Taylor was killed by police during a no-knock raid inside her apartment, to name a few. Each of these events involved unarmed African American victims and sparked protests unlike any the United States has seen since the 1960s.

According to a July 26 CNN article, President Donald Trump has called the protestors “terrorists” and suppressed their voices by sending federal agents in unmarked cars to arrest them. However, the current president cannot suppress the voices of America’s professional athletes. Players in both the NBA and NFL have repeatedly pleaded with people from every walk of life to stand beside them and understand the pain their communities must constantly bear because of the unnecessary acts of violence by police.

Outrage from recent events of police brutality has many progressive voters demanding defunding of police departments around the country. It is clear that Trump is against defunding the police. His political opponent in the upcoming election, Joe Biden, opposes the idea as well according to NPR. In a June 1 speech Biden gave in Delaware, he suggested that police officers be taught to shoot unarmed assailants in the leg, rather than in the heart. But the question that most regular Americans should be asking is, “why are police shooting unarmed people in the first place?”

For the millions of Americans that are unsympathetic to victims of excessive police force, exposure to the voices of those they respect most is essential. Pre-game and halftime shows at sporting events in 2020 have done a brilliant job of finally allowing those voices to be heard.

As silly as it might sound, if Lebron James is on a pre-game show telling Lakers fans that police brutality is a real issue that needs to be addressed, some of them are going to be more willing to listen. This country has traditionally held its sports stars up on pedestals, and those stars are taking this opportunity to sway public opinion like never before.

After the Jacob Blake shooting in August, the Baltimore Ravens released a statement with a list of demands. Included in those demands were the arrests and prosecution of the shooters of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, and the demand that Senator Mitch McConnell (Kentucky – R) bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the senate floor for a vote. This bill, also known as HR 7120, would hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies, according to the official Congress website.

Although claims that the NFL has lost viewership due to embracing a message of human rights have flooded social media, according to a Sept. 23 Yahoo Sports article, ratings drops have been either negligible or non-existent.
Though it may be true that some viewers will never agree that the United States needs police reform, professional athletes are doing their part to convince everyone that black lives matter.