Taking a stand (and a knee)

Marcus Rashford joined fellow players in showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement as he returned to action for Manchester United, just days after forcing a government U-turn. However, this week has proved to be about more than any individual name, as emphasised by the decision to replace all players names on shirts with 'Black Lives Matter' for the opening round of fixtures.

In the past, players have had concerns about raising their voice on political issues. And understandably so. Peter Norman, who famously wore a badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights in support of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, was subsequently not selected for the 1972 Summer Olympics - despite meeting the qualifying times. He retired from the sport soon after. More recently, the same can be said for NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is more than happy that his players are willing to use the forum given to them as high-profile athletes to express their beliefs about events taking place in society. Similarly, sponsors seem to be responding positively to athletes' activism. For instance, Raheem Sterling, who has provided a voice for many black footballers, recently become the new face of Gillette in the UK.  

Nelson Mandela famously turned to rugby to help bring South Africa together post-apartheid. In our current fractured world, sport has a fantastic platform to bring about meaningful social change. As Mandela said himself, Sport "has the power to unite people in a way that little else does."

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