By: Sarah Molloy, People & Operations Coordinator [Header image credit: Canva]
We all know 2020 was a difficult year for many of us, and it’s so easy to focus on the tragedy and negativity that seem to frame the year. However, a lot of good came out of 2020, especially in sports. We saw many firsts for many historically marginalized groups in the professional sports world, hopefully marking the beginning of a more inclusive and diverse American sports culture. Here are just a few of the significant sports diversity moments of last year:
The WNBA and the NBA have both taken their platforms to the next level in 2020. Both leagues were very vocal in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, with the NBA painting “Black Lives Matter” on their courts and the WNBA dedicating their season to the movement and social justice.
The Cleveland MLB team and Washington NFL team have both dropped their team names and branding and are now working to come up with new names. Washington is calling itself the Washington Football Team in the meantime. This change comes after decades of protesting from Indigenous people.
The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as the MLB’s first woman and first Asian-American general manager. This is a historic move as Ng will be the first female and first Asian American GM in Major League Baseball’s 151-year history.
Current and former NHL players have joined together to form the Hockey Diversity Alliance with the intent of raising awareness of and eradicating “racism and intolerance in hockey.” This movement is now operating independent of the NHL and will continue to inspire change within the sport for young players of color.
Last year, Katie Sowers secured her rightful place in history as the first openly gay person and woman to coach in a Super Bowl. While it’s amazing that it took this long for a woman or openly gay person to occupy this role, it signifies a shift in the extremely male-dominated world of football.
While we should celebrate the amazing wins towards a more equitable and inclusive sports world, there is still much more work to be done. The changes we saw in 2020 illustrated that great strides are being made towards these goals, but we’re still not there yet – there is still underrepresentation in sports regarding people of color, people of diverse religions, and people of all genders and sexual orientations. We will continue to keep pushing for a brighter future, and we will expect to see even more impactful and groundbreaking moments in 2021.