Music/Sports and the Power for Change
For over a week, protests have spawned in cities across the country and the world demanding respect for black lives and condemning police brutality. Eric Fuller recently wrote about the love and community building of live events. There is no doubt that music and sports can serve as drivers of change in society.
Celebrities bring a voice to causes that is hard to overlook. They bring followings, power, money, and other resources to bear that most individuals don’t have access to. This group includes music artists, large corporations, venues, athletes, and leagues.
This past Tuesday, the music industry largely took the day off from business and dedicated the day to Blackout Tuesday with messages throughout social media channels. This included artists, record labels, event organizers, and ticketing companies. Many of these entities went from words to actions after this through donations and efforts for change. Music artists have joined protest marches and dedicated songs to George Floyd.
Sports leagues and teams also participated in Blackout Tuesday. In addition, professional athletes took advantage of their free time with seasons in limbo to join protests in major cities. NBA players were some of the first to join in as protests started a week ago.
Perhaps the most meaningful aspect of change in the sports industry is hopefully coming from the NFL. The league has been largely conservative in its ways whether dealing with concussions or racial issues. Racial equality and police violence has been an issue for the league since Colin Kaepernick took a knee. New Orleans quarterback Dree Brews brought this topic to a boil again this week before being roundly criticized by his black teammates and colleagues in sports.
But the NFL took a major turn at the end of the week. Several NFL players produced a very powerful video message to the league. A day later Commissioner Roger Goodell responding with video message condemning racism, joining peaceful protests, and supporting black lives matter directly in response to the players’ message. While work must be done and actual change effected, the message coming from Goodell is monumental given his and the league’s handling of Kaepernick’s protests years ago.
Hopefully the league and owners take this seriously as the message seems to portray and actions are taken. Sports and music have historically been key agents for change in larger society and may need to take the lead again today.