RISE DIGITAL LEARNING SERIES
Sports as a Vehicle for Change
Athletes, teams and organizations at all levels can provide an essential influence to improve race relations and inspire social change.
There are many ways they can use their platforms to raise awareness about injustice, advocate for racial equity and encourage others to take steps to bring about change. For many athletes, this social justice work continues after their playing careers. Athletes view themselves as instrumental members of society and are eager to use their influence, expertise and reach to address inequity. Sports equip athletes with the aptitude, passion and dedication to undertake fundamental social change, reaffirming the enduring words of Nelson Mandela.
"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way little else does." — Nelson Mandela
Explore the Road to Progress
See how sports have spurred social change throughout history.
Check out our interactive digital timeline, the RISE Road to Progress, which chronicles the intersection of sports and social justice and the important role athletes have played in advancing equity and civil rights throughout history. These pivotal moments represent just some of the countless examples of athletes helping to move society forward.
What is the Power of Sport?
We asked athletes and sports leaders to tell us how they've seen sport act as a vehicle for social change, and why they believe the athlete's voice is so powerful in driving progress in our society. Hear their stories and perspective as featured on our podcast and from "A Walk In their Shoes," an element of our Champions of Change fan experience.
Former NFL Player
Hear Bill Rhoden's full interview on Champions of Change: The RISE Podcast
Be Part of the Change
Take the RISE Pledge to End Racism
Athletes and other sports leaders have stepped up and pledged to fight racism and discrimination. Will you join them? Take the RISE Pledge to End Racism and encourage others to join you by sharing the pledge on social media and tag us @RISEtoWIN (Twitter/Instagram) or @RISEtoWIN (Facebook) with the #LearnToRISETake the Pledge
In course 1, we learned about the many ways athletes, teams and organizations at all levels can use their platforms to raise awareness about injustice and encourage others to take steps to bring about change. As instrumental members of society, they can and have used their influence, expertise and reach to address inequity. In course 2, we take a closer look at those who are using their platforms to specifically drive the change around issues of racial equity and civic engagement. This makes sense given the long legacy that athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have left. Excitingly, it seems this current generation has accepted that they are more than just ambassadors of their sport but that they are ambassadors of us all.
"I'm inspired by the likes of Muhammad Ali, I'm inspired by the Bill Russells and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, the Oscar Robertsons — those guys who stood when the times were even way worse than they are today. Hopefully, someday down the line, people will recognize me not only for the way I approached the game of basketball, but the way I approached life as an African-American man." — LeBron James
During 2020, we've seen the mobilization of a social justice movement that we have not seen in decades, and one that we have never seen before in sports.
Across all sports leagues and levels, athletes, coaches and staffs leveraged their platforms to create positive change, from conducting player strikes to calling on owners to use their power to promote social justice. Voices in sports matter in our culture, and their words and acts were heard throughout our country this year.
Giants players partner with RISE to spread word on importance of voting through "Team of Teams" initiative
NBA-led walkout over Jacob Blake's shooting marks evolution of protest in pro sports
'It needs to stop' — Kings co-owner says NBA teams stand with players against racial injustice
Go Vote! The Denver Broncos Host a Powerful, Informative Virtual Town Hall
'Our players want action, not just statements and words': MSU football talks social injustice
Billie Jean King: This is a powerful moment for athletes creating change through sports
Michigan, Ohio State set rivalry aside for allied stance against racism
BIG EAST Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Launches Voter Registration Campaign
Florida A&M football players and coaches at forefront of Tallahassee protests
Atlanta Dream's Renee Montgomery says she's sitting out 2020 WNBA season
How Black Women Athletes Paved The Way For The NBA Strike
Bubba Wallace is still learning to 'embrace' activism after finding himself at the center of a race debate
The Milwaukee Bucks Led the Way as Athletes Took a Stand Over Jacob Blake. Players Decades Ago Helped Win Them the Power to Speak Up
The education of Meyers Leonard
'Emotional' Nets talks sparked Joe Tsai's $50M social justice fund
Rally the Vote / Kings Piece