Teaching About Activism in the NFL

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Philadelphia Eagle Malcolm Jenkins speaking on a panel during the 2017 Black Lives Matter Week Of Action. Jenkins is of one of many NFL players who have taken a political stand both on and off the field in recent years. 

This year’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action (February 5-10, 2018) takes place the week following Super Bowl 52, the culminating moment of an NFL season which featured powerful, high-profile displays of activism. While the initial purpose of the #TakeAKnee movement was muddied after Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks, it’s important to consider the initial goal of Colin Kaepernick’s action: to call attention to the persistent injustices faced by Black people in the United States. It is shocking to consider that what provoked so much discussion in September and October has been nearly eliminated from the popular conversation at the end of this NFL season.

The articles and lesson plans below contain a variety of approaches to covering activism in sports, from a deep dive into responses to NFL protests to a consideration of their place in the history of sports activism to an analysis of the rights of students and teachers to protest to an inquiry into why the energy around this activism dwindled towards the end of the season.

If you have additional resources that you feel should be added to this collection, please share them to BLMPHLed@gmail.com.

Lesson Plans

Resource (with link)

Description of Resource

Recommended Grade Level

Guiding Principles Associated

Athletes and Activism Lesson

Athletes and Activism lesson plan from the Anti-Defamation League - lots of articles linked here

High School

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value, Intergenerational, Loving Engagement

Text to Text | Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest and Frederick Douglass’s ‘What to the Slave is the 4th of July?’

Lesson Plan, Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem Protest and Frederick Douglass’s ‘What to the Slave is the 4th of July?

High

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

Free speech and Trump’s reaction to NFL protesters

PBS NewsHour with clip, Twitter simulation activity:

High School

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

Kaepernick & Fellow Athletes Take a Stand

Lesson plan from the Morningside Center

High School

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

 

Articles, Visual Art, and Videos

Resource (with link)

Description of Resource

Recommended Grade Level

Guiding Principles Associated

The NFL’s $100 Million Ploy to Stop Player Protests

This article addresses

Background/High School

Unapologetically Black

Discussing #TakeAKnee in Class

Understanding rights and activism

Middle/High

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

From Kaepernick Sitting to Trump’s Fiery Comments: NFL’s Anthem Protests Have Spurred Discussion

A resource that focuses on responses to NFL protests from a variety of sources, with many responses from players across the league.

Educators/High School

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

Mark Ulriksen’s “In Creative Battle”

New Yorker Cover - With description of what inspired the artist - could be a great jumping off point for a current lesson to tie into these other pieces.

Background, Visual Art, Political Cartoon

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

“The Black Athlete in America”

A video clip that connects the history of dissent in sports to current “Take a Knee” protests.

High School, Video

Unapologetically Black, Intergenerational

Classroom Kaepernicks: Can students and teachers take a knee?

An article that considers rights that students and teachers have to protest.

Background/High School

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History: What Do the National Anthem Protests Mean?

Collection of resources, focused on public radio pieces

Background

Unapologetically Black, Diversity, Collective Value

Riot Sale or Dollar Psyche Fake out by Ben Caldwell

A Black Arts Movement play that thematically connects to the NFL Protests

Play

Unapologetically Black, Intergenerational