Nike selected former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its "Just Do It" campaign, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Darren Rovell of ESPN reported the choice of Kaepernick, who started the movement to kneel during the United States national anthem to protest racial injustice in August 2016. Rovell said, “Nike had been paying Colin Kaepernick all along, waiting for the right moment. That moment is now, as he becomes the face of the company’s 30th anniversary of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign.” One of the first taglines in the campaign is: Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
As Kaepernick becomes the public face of the campaign, it will be important to watch the reaction in society as Nike is a major partner of the NFL and the company holds sway at the club level. It’s too early to tell how this will impact his collusion case against the NFL, but it seems more certain than ever that his playing days are over.
Five-time Olympic medal winner, Simone Biles, made a statement in more ways than one at the U.S. Gymnastics Championship in Boston earlier this summer. She became the first woman in 24 years to be awarded the top score in every event of a national championship. She accomplished this while sending a powerful message through her decision to wear a teal leotard. Eight months in advance, Biles choose to wear teal, the symbolic color for survivors of sexual abuse, and designed her own leotard. She is among 250 athletes who have come forward to accuse former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. "I stand with all of them and I think it’s kind of special to unite (people)" she told the Associated Press. Her leotard choice served as a meaningful tribute to survivors at the event, which was the first U.S. Championships held since Nassar's conviction. This demonstrates that athletes can speak out and speak up in more ways than simply their actions or words. Biles’ leotard sent a powerful message that we are stronger together and that we will stand up for what is right.
The third NBA Africa Game was held in Pretoria, South Africa this summer. Eighteen NBA players participated in the exhibition as part of Basketball Without Borders, the NBA’s outreach program that helps promote the sport around the globe. The game was played in support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, embodying his belief that sports have the power to inspire and change the world. Players and participants spent the week involved in basketball camps, youth leadership programs, the second NBA Africa Innovation Summit, and various community service projects for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Hoops for Hope.
This was deeply personal for Joel Embiid, the star center for the Philadelphia 76ers, because he was discovered at a Basketball without Borders camp in Africa in 2011. Embiid paid homage to South African icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy, 100 years after his birth, was celebrated by the NBA.
'Madiba,' as the former president was known, was a strong advocate for the power of sport to change lives, and Embiid said that he felt it was his duty to give back in memory of Mandela, and to use his fame and wealth to help those who need it, either through the game itself, or through other charitable efforts. Embiid said of Mandela: "He did a lot of great things, which I appreciate a lot. Now me being in that position, I'm in a position where I'm able to give back. I have to give back because of the people that paved the way for us."
Embiid was a visible and enthusiastic presence throughout the trip, chatting and laughing with fellow players and the camp attendees, and was clearly having a great time, dunking on Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, and joking around with the kids.
As for his own enjoyment of the week in Johannesburg, the 7-foot player recalled his own excitement at being allowed near NBA players when he was a 'camper' in 2011, and he's happy to give youngsters today that same fulfillment.
When asked if this week made him feel nostalgic for his own camp days, Embiid said: "Yeah, it's fun for me. I think as long as God allows me, as long as my schedule allows me, that's something I want to do every year, just come back and give back. When I was in that situation, I felt great being among NBA players. I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to touch them because I was so amazed by them.” Of course, Embiid realizes his unique story and situation and understands that there are more children like him. “I feel like we have a lot of talent, undiscovered talent, that can have a chance just like I did. They just need an opportunity.”
Eight-year-old Hailey Dawson is on a mission to become the first person to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums in the US. As she travels across the country, she is determined to raise awareness for Poland syndrome, a rare birth defect that caused her to be born without three fingers on her right hand and without a right pectoral muscle. Hailey wears a 3D-printed robotic hand customized for each game thanks to the engineering team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her effort is also helping to raise money for UNLV to produce similar 3D hands for other patients. With her final pitch set for the Angels vs. Mariners game in Los Angeles on Sept. 16, Hailey leaves behind a nation of fans – professional athletes included – inspired by her journey.
This demonstrates that no matter how old or young, how large your stature, you can use sport as a vehicle for social change. Hailey realized how she could use sport to raise awareness and has created a movement of fans and players supporting her journey.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton became one of the most popular figures in Buffalo after his touchdown pass helped Buffalo make the playoffs last season. The fourth-down pass eliminated the Ravens and gave the Bills their first playoff appearance in 17 years.
Immediately following the game, the Andy and Jordan Foundation, which supports children in need, was flooded with donations from Buffalo fans. Dalton said that as of this week, his foundation has received 17,000 donations for more than $450,000 that can be traced to the Buffalo area. When the Bengals visited the Buffalo Bills for a preseason game a few weeks ago, Dalton donated to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo
Bills coach Sean McDermott is touched by how fans have responded to Dalton, and also by how the Bengals quarterback is giving back to Buffalo. "What a strong moment," McDermott said. "It gives me chills just to think about it. So many times ... you get, 'Hey, this is this team and that team,' and you kind of get on your own individual islands and everyone's on their own island and team. "But what a great testament to paying it forward and what Andy and his wife have decided to do and give back to our community that gave to them."