Member Insights: The Power Of Sport For Social Change
July 6, 2020
I had the pleasure of working with Marcus Rashford when he was a blossoming teenager coming through the ranks.
From the first moment that he turned up to shoot the “Everything but Football, Football Show” for Chevrolet holding his Tesco carrier bag, I knew there was something humble and remarkable about him.
Fast-forward nearly 5 years, and who would have thought that he could leverage his grounded nature to contribute to such a remarkable political debate and movement for change around child poverty in the UK.
Sportsmen often get a bad reputation for the salaries they earn and the lifestyles they live, but this ability to utilise profile to raise awareness and drive change cannot be ignored.
This ability to use personal brand for good is a brilliant example of how profile within sport can really mobilise our community to drive significant change. Sportsmen often get a bad reputation for the salaries they earn and the lifestyles they live, but this ability to utilise profile to raise awareness and drive change cannot be ignored. I often get in debate with friends over this, but there are many reasons why I feel that the industry deserves the pay pack that it gets, so I wanted to highlight some acts of kindness that contribute back to society to disprove that thought process.
Colin Kaepernick’s take the knee could not be more poignant right now. His decision to sit then kneel during the national anthem in the US in 2016 was incredibly dividing with people burning Nike products in an act of protest. Sport is ritualistic and this has now been adopted by the PL as an act of unison for “Black Lives Matter”. Let’s hope it’s not just a wave of marketing and that this stands as a pillar for change for the long run.
Probably not widely known in the UK, but Meyers Drysdale was the woman who truly broke the sport’s gender barrier in basketball in the US. Drysdale was the first woman to sign a four-year athletic scholarship at UCLA and became the first, and still only, woman to sign an NBA contract, doing so with the Indiana Pacers in 1979. She has been quoted as one of the best players, gender aside, to play for the NBA.
Coming back closer to home there is Juan Mata and his movement “Common Goal”. The salary sacrifice programme whereby the members donate 1% of their income to contribute to social improvement projects around the globe, leverages the power of football to unite people universally.
LeBron James has taken to using his profile to really drive change widely politically around racial equality globally. “It starts person by person” he’s famed for saying, and what better way to start when you have 35 million social media followers.
At the beginning of lockdown football players in the UK got publicly criticised by our government for not giving back. It seems slightly off point when you just look at a slight glimmer of what we can see in regard to the social change that is driven from sport.
The passion on the pitch can be seen so clearly off the pitch in many cases. Maybe we could all learn about how our voice can be an influence within our society to do good and drive change. Something to think about eh?
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”.
Aimeé Howells is a Brand Relationship Manager at GO!