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As the effects of the overturning of Roe v. Wade ripple throughout the nation, notable professional athletes and teams speak out while many remain silent.
There’s an intersection between social justice and sports not because people are changing, but because platforms are.
In 1969, Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in the air for Black power. That iconic moment set a precedent at the Olympics — no political demonstrations are currently banned — and it changed the lives of these two athletes forever.
“From that moment, the two athletes would be vilified, threatened and, in some circles, celebrated,” wrote The History Channel’s Nadra Kareem Nittle in how this moment changed sports history.
A few years removed from Colin Kaepernick’s similar protest in the NFL, athletes and organizations use social media platforms to demonstrate their values. Athletes have recently spoken out against gun violence in America, the increased violence against Black and Asian American communities, laws targeting trans and queer youth, and a multitude of intertwined facets of American society that harm its citizens.
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, removing a 49-year protection for anyone in America who would become pregnant. Immediately, millions became vulnerable as they face a future where they could be prosecuted for murder for a miscarriage.
While many professional athletes and organizations in women’s sports quickly spoke out against the lacking legal protections for their athletes, many men’s professional sports teams were notably silent. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers have tweeted about their newest draftees, the St. Louis Cardinals have tweeted injury updates, and the New York Jets shared snapshots from Tight End U. As of yet, none of these professional men’s sports teams, in addition to many others, have said anything about a decision that affects over half of the U.S. population and a considerable portion of sports fans.
That being said, there were athletes and teams in men’s professional sports who spoke in solidarity with those who are affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. These individuals and teams said something at a time when men’s sports remain largely silent on the issue, but as NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said, “reproductive rights are human rights.”
Here are the professional athletes in men’s sports speaking out against Roe v. Wade decision
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers forward
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets point guard
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies point guard
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 24, 2022
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals quarterback
Josh Hart, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard
Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs safety
Damien Harris, New England Patriots halfback
Jakob Johnson, Las Vegas Raiders fullback
Johnny Stanton, Cleveland Browns fullback
Mark Canha, New York Mets first baseman/outfielder
Jerry Blevins, former Oakland A’s/Washington Nationals/New York Mets/Atlanta Braves pitcher
Robert Griffin III, former NFL quarterback
Jeff Allen, former Kansas City Chiefs/Houston Texans guard
Kyle Long, former Chicago Bears/Kansas City Chiefs guard
The NBA and WNBA issued a statement via commissioners Adam Silver and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
Athletes like Seattle Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs reshared tweets that criticized the Supreme Court decision.
Here are the professional athletes in women’s sports speaking out against Roe v. Wade decision
Megan Rapinoe, OL Reign and NWST winger
Lindsay Horan, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin forward/midfielder (loan from Portland Thorns FC)
Sue Bird, Seattle Storm point guard
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm power forward
Brianna Turner, Phoenix Mercury power forward
Stefanie Dolson, New York Liberty center
Nikki Stanton, OL Reign midfielder
Madison Packer, Metropolitan Riveters forward
Gabby Williams, Seattle Storm power forward
Muffet McGraw, former Notre Dame women’s basketball coach and professional athlete
Kaiya McCollough, former Washington Spirit Defender
Here are the professional women’s sports teams speaking out against Roe v. Wade decision
WNFC (Women’s National Football Conference)
Angel City FC
NJ/NY Gotham FC
Portland Thorns FC
San Diego Wave FC
Racing Louisville FC
Here are the professional men’s sports teams speaking out against Roe v. Wade decision
Premier Lacrosse League
Oakland Roots SC
San Diego Loyal
While women in sports are collectively reflecting on how this law targeting the reproductive rights of those who can become pregnant, there are men in sports who stand in solidarity with them. Sadly, there aren’t enough of them.