In 2016, former NFL player Colin Kaepernick was heavily criticized for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem at an NFL game. Those who eventually joined him in drawing attention to systemic oppression, police brutality, and injustice drew ire from the media, the public, and even the President of the United States. The adverse sentiments echoed Fox Sports anchor Laura Ingraham’s message to LeBron James months earlier that he should “shut up and dribble” instead of involving himself in politicized issues. In the midst of an environment already agitated by a fast-spreading pandemic, 2020 saw the silent protests turn into heightened athlete activism as outrage at racially motivated violence extended beyond the field of play. Meanwhile, college athletes around the nation marched in the streets of their college towns, protesting a need for change in race relations in American society. The election season also saw athletes actively participating in efforts to increase voter registration and turnout.
These efforts build upon the legacy of athlete activism addressing many societal factors. From Cleveland’s Muhammad Ali Summit in 1967 to John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s raised fists during the 1968 Olympics to WNBA star Maya Moore’s more recent fight for Jonathan Irons’ freedom, athletes have been at the forefront of social movements.
The overarching focus of the book is to explore the role athletes have played in raising awareness of and advancing social justice issues. Authors are asked to consider various aspects of athlete involvement and influence, using a wide range of theoretical perspectives. Please note that although the book will provide an early historical chapter as the foundation for exploring athlete activism, it focuses on the past 30 years (1990-present), reaching beyond the Civil Rights era.
Athlete involvement in social justice topics include, but are not limited to:
- Police brutality (marches, anthem)
- Voting rights (LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes)
- Political campaigns (Atlanta Dream)
- Education (involvement with schools, HBCU initiatives, opening schools)
- Gender equity (Ann Meyers Drysdale, Brittney Griner)
- Income gap (WNBA, US Women’s Soccer)
- Healthcare (COVID-19, vaccination, wellness)
- Economic equality
- Environmental justice
- Prison reform (Maya Moore)
- Racism in sports (Bubba Wallace, Serena Williams, NFL)
- Labor laws
- Chapter proposals should include a title and be no more than 500 words. Proposals should give a clear sense of (a) the focus of the chapter, (b) the scope of the research, (c) the method of inquiry, and (d) the theoretical foundation.
- Submissions should adhere to APA and be submitted as a Microsoft Word document.
- Each author should submit an abridged (2-3 pages) CV and one-paragraph bio.
- Submit proposals to Mia Long Anderson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Social Justice Athlete as the subject.
- All chapter proposals are due by April 30, 2021.
- Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by May 15, 2021.
- Full manuscripts (4000-6000 words) are due by August 15, 2021.