Saturday night Miami Dolphins players and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced the creation of a yearly fund with the purpose of advocating for and sponsoring social justice programs in South Florida. There are a lot of bullet-pointed details in there, and I urge you to read through the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
- A program to earmark funds for organizations “involved in community engagement, education, or justice reform.”
- A four-year scholarship for deserving students who participate in programs involved in community engagement, education, or justice reform.
- Sponsorship of the Police Athletic League of North Miami. PAL of North Miami has a dead website, but the North Miami Beach PAL site gives an idea of the kinds of programs being run, and the drift of the whole deal, which is your basic cops-and-kids-getting-to-know-each-other thing.
- An expansion of Stephen Ross’s RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality) program, which uses sports as an entry point for discussions about “racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusivity” among high school students.
- An annual town hall meeting “featuring community leaders, law enforcement and educators with a shared goal of improving race relations and bringing people together under the unifying values of sports.”
It’s important to note that a motivating factor compelling owners—in this case, Stephen Ross—to hammer this stuff out with players is their urge to bring an end to ongoing player protests during pregame national anthem ceremonies at NFL games, and the PR shit-storm swirling around those actions. That’s how protests work—their purpose is to disrupt an indifferent status quo and bring attention to protestor’s issues. We can argue about whether these initiatives go far enough, but they exist at all because the actions of protesting NFL players have put enormous pressure on NFL owners to take their concerns seriously.