Looking back at the 10 biggest social justice protests by athletes over the last 20 years

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest is what's in the news today, but is just the latest in a long line of athletes protesting social injustice.

Dating back decades, sports has often been used as a platform to raise larger, more complex issues to a general audience.

SEE ALSO: Tim Tebow opens up about his transition to baseball

Especially in recent years, athletes have been willing to engage in conversation and take a stand when it comes to issues that matter off the field.

Below are 10 example, pre-Kaepernick, of athletes taking a stand for something they believe in -- in ways that everybody may not agree with, but in ways that got a conversation started.

10 biggest sports protests of the last 20 years
See Gallery
10 biggest sports protests of the last 20 years

1996:  Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf protests the National Anthem

Before Colin Kaepernick, NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was the athlete who made news for protesting during the pregame playing of the national anthem. 

The flag is "a symbol of oppression, of tyranny," he said. "This country has a long history of that. I don't think you can argue the facts." 


2001: Shawn Green doesn't play on Yom Kippur

Beginning in 2001, then-star outfielder Shawn Green -- a Jewish player -- made it clear that he would not play on Yom Kippur, which often coincided with his teams' playoff chases.


2004: Delgado sits for 'God Bless America'

In 2004 and 2005, in protest of the wars the United States was engaged in, Carlos Delgado began to remain in his team's dugout during the seventh-inning playing of "God Bless America."

"I never stay outside for 'God Bless America,'" Delgado said. "I actually don't think people have noticed it. I don't (stand) because I don't believe it's right, I don't believe in the war."

Delgado dropped his protest upon being traded to the Mets before the 2006 season.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine/FILE RFS/ME/GN)

2010: Suns wear 'Noche Latina' jerseys in light of Arizona's immigration law

In 2010, Arizona passed strict immigration law that, some argued, encouraged racial profiling. In response, the Suns welcomed their Hispanic fans by donning "Los Suns" jerseys.

 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2014: NBA players wear hoodies for Trayvon Martin

After Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in February 2012, various NBA players took to social media to post pictures of themselves donning hoodies -- which Martin was wearing at the time of his death -- to bring awareness to the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

2014: NBA players wear 'I Can't Breathe" warmups

After Eric Garner, a New York man, died at the hands of the NYPD while being placed in a chokehold, various NBA players and teams took the court for warmups wearing shirts that read "I Can't Breathe" -- Garner's plea for help while being choked and held to the ground.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

2014: Clippers protest Donald Sterling

After a recording of then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling making several racially insensitive statements leaked online, a move for his ouster was started by several important figures around the league. Before a playoff game, Clippers wore their warmup t-shirts inside-out to hide the team's logo. 

Sterling was permanently banned from the league, and forced to sell the Clippers, later that year.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

2014: Rams players put their hands up for Michael Brown

After the shooting and killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, with his hands in the air by a Missouri police officer, the "hands-up" gesture became a tribute to Brown and a sign to spread awareness of the various issues that led to his death.

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)

2015: Missouri football team backs hunger strike on campus

In 2015, members of the Missouri campus engaged in a hunger strike, targeted toward forcing school president Tim Wolfe to step down after years or promoting a racist environment. The football team then halted all team activities until Wolfe was removed. He resigned on Nov. 9, 2015.

(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

2016: WNBA Black Lives Matter protests

After the killing of two African American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, WNBA players took the court for warmups in clothing that supports the two men, Black Lives Matter, and the slain Dallas police officers. 

 (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)


Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read Full Story

From Our Partners