Lewis Hamilton to Naomi Osaka, when sports met social justice in 20202 min read . Updated: 17 Sep 2020, 11:00 AM IST
Athletes around the world continue their support for Black Lives Matter with strong statements on their apparel. Is it time Indian athletes raised their voices too?
Over the last few months, most of the biggest sporting leagues and athletes around the world have shown their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of these individual stars have not only taken a knee in support but also worn different phrases and statements on their clothing for the movement’s cause. Undeterred by the debate on whether sports, politics and social justice should be mixed, their voices only grow stronger.
Lewis Hamilton — Formula One
The Mercedes driver has been a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. From his racing helmets to his car’s livery for the 2020 F1 season, Hamilton’s voice has been dominant. At last weekend’s Tuscan GP, the 35-year-old wore a black T-shirt in support of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old African-American emergency paramedic who was fatally shot at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, by three policemen.
Naomi Osaka — Tennis
The reigning US Open champion, who represents Japan, honoured seven victims of racial injustice by wearing seven different face masks with their names on it during the tournament. The 22-year-old’s win over Victoria Azarenka earlier this month reaffirmed her status as a star on the court, but Osaka tweeted on 16 September to show that she is not afraid to make a statement off the court either: “All the people that were telling me to ‘keep politics out of sports’ (which it wasn’t political at all), really inspired me to win."
Bubba Wallace — Nascar racing
One of Nascar’s youngest stars, and its only full-time African American driver, raced with Black Lives Matter livery on his car in June, while wearing a black T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe" printed on it. The 26-year-old, who currently races for Richard Petty Motorsports, was also in the spotlight when a noose was found in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway later that month, which led to a federal investigation on the issue.
The 20-year-old winger has made headlines this transfer window but he has also been vocal on the pitch while demanding justice for George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis during an arrest. In June, Sancho scored his first professional hat- trick. After scoring the first of his three goals against Paderborn in the German Bundesliga, the England international revealed his yellow undershirt, which carried the message “Justice for George Floyd".
In July, the Los Angeles Lakers power forward called Black Lives Matter “a lifestyle", not a movement, while demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. James has been an active supporter of the movement in recent years. In July, the NBA star said: “This is a walk of life. When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement—it should be a lifestyle. This is who we are."