From The Grio — The NBA cares. I know this because during commercial breaks of televised games, the NBA goes to great lengths to notify me, trotting out their most marketable players to do 15 second spots about the joys of giving back to their communities. It’s not just basketball, though. Throughout their respective seasons, professional athletes of various sports star in commercials showcasing their work in the community, mostly working with children in low-income neighborhoods, or dealing with terminal illnesses.
During the month of October, NFL players donned pink wristbands, socks, team caps, and other paraphernalia to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness month. A few weeks ago, the NBA decorated their hardwood floors with large green logos and had the athletes sport green headbands to highlight their “Green Week” and issues pertaining to the environment and energy conservation. But April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the major sports organizations, including the MLB which just kicked off its season, have been noticeably, curiously quiet on the subject.
Granted, it would be nearly impossible for them to champion every single worthy cause and societal concern. April is also Autism Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Awareness Month, National Arab American Heritage Month, and National Poetry Writing Month. We can hardly expect to see LeBron James driving to the basket and having to adjust six different color wristbands in the process. However, given the gravity of the issue and the influence professional athletes wield in this country, the three major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, and MLB) could all help contribute to the much needed conversation regarding sexual assault.
It’s particularly necessary considering the target audience of these sports. Young boys and men constitute a great majority of the fans, and it’s this demographic that requires more information regarding sexual assault and rape. Too often conversations concerning sexual assault tend to focus in on the behaviors and choices of the women who are most likely to be victims, devolving into a parade of victim-blaming, removing any responsibility from the perpetrators.