Social Justice in the National Football League: How an Internal Initiative Could Help Dismantle Racism and Promote Player Activism


  • Emily Laff School of Counseling Studies, Georgetown University



social justice, George Floyd, NFL, Black History


Social injustice remains a painfully present issue in American society. The evidence of inequality for people of color in the United States of America is woven throughout history--and is still present today. Despite years of grassroots movements fighting for civil rights and policy reform that have shaped change, there is still an undeniably volatile racial climate in America ignited by years of injustice. Most recently, this injustice can be seen through the lens of iPhones-which have captured the vexing reality of police brutality experienced by people of color, and the absence of justice for those responsible. What should be considered a humanitarian issue has been warped into a divisive political controversy. Though the racial tension is palpable, and arguably inescapable, Americans continuously turn to sports as a reprieve from the world’s problems. Yet, a fair percentage of those athletes and coaches providing the sports entertainment are also living in a reality steeped with racism and social injustice that awaits them outside the bounds of their playing surface. This article presents in detail the history of social justice and civil rights within the confines of sports, offering an internal training initiative aimed at dismantling racism and promoting player activism in the NFL. By dismantling racism and unconscious bias internally team by team, the NFL could support their staff and players of color. In turn, this would allow for more autonomy for players in the realm of social justice advocacy, and utilizing player platforms more effectively through community engagement.


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