The National Football League is set to introduce more social justice messages for the 2021 season as part of its initiatives launched in 2020.
According to Front Office Sports, the league pledged $250 million to combat systemic racism over the next ten years. This includes promoting social justice with on-field signage, decals on player helmets and PSAs that will play in the stadium.
The league also plans to make the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, a key part of league events. Victims of racial injustice will be highlighted with a project called “Say Their Stories.”
Despite this, the 2021 season will proceed with the theme “It Takes All of Us,” and stadium messaging will focus on the theme of “Inspire Change.” The efforts will begin in the preseason that starts on August 5. NFL end zones will include messages that read “End Racism” and “Inspire Change.”
Roc Nation, owned by rapper and billionaire Jay-Z, is advising the NFL’s “Inspire Change” initiative and working with it to provide high-profile performers for large-scale NFL events.
In addition to these efforts, NFL players will be allowed to take a knee or protest on the field during the United States national anthem. While the NFL has not disciplined players for kneeling during the anthem, Black quarterback Colin Kaepernick was famously blackballed by the league after kneeling to protest racial injustice in 2016.
Other leagues are also stepping up their initiatives to combat systemic racism. The National Basketball Association and its players’ union launched the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition to help fight systemic racial inequality. Major League Basketball also announced a $150 million commitment to increase Black representation in baseball.
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.