Athlete Activism in the Black Lives Matter Era:The strength and limitations of antiracism protests within the NFL, NBA and NHL.

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This thesis examines in what ways responses to anti-racism protests within the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Hockey League (NHL), by athletes and the sports leagues themselves have illustrated the strengths and limitations of athletic activism in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) era. This thesis uses the NFL, NBA, and NHL as case studies considering them as individual aspects as well as in relation to each other. Through the examination of the history of athlete activism and the backlash to, (dis)continuity in, and effectiveness of athletic activism, the strengths and limitations of each league will be discussed. The case studies have shown that the strengths and limitations of athlete activism in the BLM era are linked to the sports leagues the activist are connected to. The three sports leagues differ in the way they are being managed and watched by fans, all of which has influenced the way in which these leagues have been able to interact with protests. The NBA receives a relatively high support from the league’s executives and fans, which results in influential actions of protests. However, the NFL and NHL are not supported by either fans or executives which results in a poor athlete activism performance.
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