Athlete activism has become a common buzzword in today’s highly volatile political environment. Especially as the country and the world rallies around Black Lives Matter and the important cause of racial justice, it’s time to better understand how to use your voice as an athlete to make a difference.
As an athlete you have a voice that people will listen to. People respect and look up to you. Activism is important because today speaking out is expected. People want to know where you stand and what you're doing with your influence to make the world better.
But it’s important to take on the role of an activist the right way. Promoting and sharing on social media gets people’s attention, and may bring awareness to an issue, but it’s really all about your action. What can be done to solve the problem? How can you help?
Understand the influence you have as an athlete over change makers in any industry. People will take meetings with you because you are an athlete and you have a platform. The key is to use the influence you have to create positive change for your community.
The process of finding your activism focus can take time. You won’t get there overnight and it will require lots of thought and conversations with others to narrow it down. At the end of the day, ask yourself, what is important to you? Create a list of those causes or values.
Once you have a list going, start to think about the problems that may be involved with some of these things. Once you do find the problems that matter to you, then it’s time to think about how you can help solve them.
For example, if you want to support the Black Lives Matter movement, will you go out and protest? Will you support policy changes to the criminal justice system or police reform? Will you support education in various communities on anti-racism? Or will you support the medical or legal expenses of protestors and community organizers?
Only you can answer which angle of the issue makes the most sense for your support. You can address as many sides of the issue as you’d like but having a clear focus helps you build impact. Remember, athlete activism doesn’t have to mean any one lane of action.
Athlete activism can be done in hundreds of different ways. You can:
Share resources on how people can support a cause on social media.
Sponsor a program within a non-profit foundation that focuses on your cause.
Attend or host a fundraiser.
Support a policy initiative and encourage people in your network to learn more and vote.
Write an article on your experience and advice going through a hard time or a specific problem.
Host a conversation on an issue like police brutality or the importance of Anti-Racism in your community.
Write a check.
Go to a local school and speak on anti-bullying.
Any and all of these (and much more) is athlete activism. The most important thing is that your words are sincere and meaningful, and that you back them up with actions. Whatever commitment you are willing and able to make is what matters.