Every year each of the major American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA) name champions who emerge from a bracket-style playoff format. Usually, we look within a particular league to assess the competition of teams or players. Very rarely do we look across leagues to see how the Commissioners and higher-ups of each of these leagues are handling things going on within their own walls.
Everyone will agree who is an NFL fan that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, handled the whole deflate-gate situation terribly. And, that MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, did not do a great job with the discipline of the cheating scandal by the Houston Astros which arguably won them the World Series in 2017.
Whether you agree with these decisions or not it is clear to see that although a lot of criticism is given to the individual commissioners. Usually, the acts of each commissioner are not compared against one another. Especially, when it comes to how the leagues are responding to the social climate of our country.
It is clear to see on a Sunday afternoon that the NFL is not shying away from the social climate in our country. On the back of each player’s helmet, there is a social justice phrase or a name of a Black American who has been a victim of police brutality. NFL players are given a platform to show what they believe in a speak out on the injustices that face minority groups in the U.S. The NFL has faced these issues head-on and given the players the platform and the ability to do that as well.
The NBA also gave their players a platform to speak out on issues within our country by allowing players to have social justice slogans or phrases placed on the back of their jerseys where their names usually would be. Players did however have to pick from a list of approved slogans but none the less were given free rein to choose any of the approved choices.
The NBA and NFL have led the way when it comes to giving their players the platform to speak on social issues within our country on the national stage. The NHL and MLB have done almost the exact opposite.
Other then a few statements made by the commissioner’s of both leagues there has been little done on a league wide basis to promote social change like there was in both the NBA and NFL. Out of the major four sports leagues in America though the MLB and NHL have the lowest amount of Black Americans represented in their ranks. None the less their action on a league wide basis has been minimal.
It is clear to see that there has been a clear difference in the way that major sports leagues in America have handled the social issues that underly our nation and it is not hard to see which leagues are embracing this and those that are not.