In the four years since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem, sports have remained a landscape strained with issues of racial inequality — some of the same issues that have since swelled into nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. In recent months, NBA players have worn jerseys with words relating to fighting racial injustice and racism and soccer players have kneeled around the world in response to police brutality.

St. Mary's Law Professor David Grenardo plays with a football.

While sports are a reflection of society, David Grenardo, J.D., Professor of Law at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, argues that they can also provide a powerful means to combat racism.

In a new article, Grenardo, a former college football player, examines the state of racism in society and sports, historically and today. He also provides background on how racism develops and how it can be countered.

Grenardo’s research on the topic will be published in the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law in Spring 2021 in an article titled, “It’s Worth a Shot: Can Sports Combat Racism in the United States?

His analysis includes actions underway to address racism through sports in the U.S. and provides practical and tangible ways sports can be platforms to battle racism.

Since racial biases can begin in children as young as age 4, Grenardo’s article promotes the three E’s to fight racism using sports — education and experience that occur early in life. Education and experiences through sports that allow for young children of different races to interact meaningfully will help overcome implicit biases and racial stereotypes.

Sports can also subvert racism by providing opportunities and access to jobs for minorities in leadership positions. Grenardo’s article concludes that if sports can create any type of positive impact in combating racism — which it can — then those efforts are shots worth taking.

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