MLB team uniforms could see a few adjustments. League players are thinking about adding social justice messages on their MLB uniforms as a way to support movements like Black Lives Matter and racial inequality. Even though MLB has not been quite involved in discussions of such matters, this time it is going to be a different story for the league.
Social Justice Reform Comes To MLB
What has brought this movement into the sports league is the murder of George Floyd which took place on May 25, and which has become an important part of the US scene. For that reason, MLB players and teams have gotten involved in discussions about social justice since sports can have a huge influence in this regard.
The league is not yet sure about the shape of the elements – if they will be a logo on the uniforms or something shared by the MLB players like pamphlets or flyers with messages that fight against racism and social injustice.
On the subject of racial justice, players from Los Angeles Dodgers participated on a Zoom call handled by Clayton Kershaw in which they had a talk about racism and the social issues that affect thousands of African Americans. The video helped to support Black Lives Matter, the social movement that fights against police brutality in regard to the killings of many blacks in the past few years.
Sports leagues have not always been the best example when it comes to discussing social justice and racism issues. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem in order to protest social injustices, but was ignored and shunned. Bruce Maxwell of Oakland Athletics also kneeled during the anthem back in 2017, but he felt unsupported by team members and people who are into sports.
MLB Follows In The NBA’s Footsteps
MLB took its cue from the NBA, which announced that players will have social justice messages on the jerseys, but with limitations. This was not welcomed by everyone in the NBA, but has continued to gain traction. As a result, the NBPA partnered with Russell Westbrook’s clothing factory to come up with a design in the shirts that will be used during the season restart. The players can choose among several messaging options like Systemic Racism, Police Reform, I Can’t Breathe, No Justice No Peace, Break the Cycle and many more.
This is an opportunity for many players to express respect for victims who have suffered rejection and abuse due to acts of hatred and racism. Racism has always been a tough issue in the US. This time, the NBA is letting players wear these kinds of messages in order to promote a more tolerant society. Last week, a total of 285 players out of the 350 who will participate in the NBA Bubble informed the league of their choice regarding the message to be worn. Most players chose messages like “Equality,” “Freedom” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Some rules were established by the NBA regarding the social justice messaging. Players will be allowed to have quotes on the back of the jerseys during the first four days of the basketball league restart season and, after that, players are free to still have the message above their number on the back of the jerseys, but their last name is required to appear underneath.
The basketball league has to decide how the shirts will be used or what they will look like. But, something that is true is that this movement of having messages on the shirts will push players to be more open to speak about topics dealing with racism and social justice. With the social justice messages now appearing in the NBA and MLB – with similar responses seen in limited amounts in international leagues, there will most likely be more to follow.