30 Under 30 In Sports 2021: Why Sports Matter In A Time Of Social Justice, Social Distancing, And Social Media

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This year's 30 Under 30 In Sports class remind us why sports matter, maybe now more than ever.
When Covid-19 led to a nationwide lockdown in March, shutting down competitions, stadiums, arenas, gyms and even local tracks and trails, it seemed we were headed for a year in which sports no longer mattered. Members of Forbes 2021 30 Under 30 in Sports reminded us why they still do, maybe more than ever.

The May release of the eight minute and 46 second video chronicling the killing of George Floyd sparked athletes, teams and leagues to rush off the sidelines to speak out about police brutality against the Black community and participate in protests demanding police reform. They didn't stick to sports.

Natasha Cloud, the 28-year old star of the Washington Mystics, was among the first to lead the charge. She opted out of the WNBA season and forewent her salary to raise awareness for social justice issues and the fight for racial equality, telling Forbes she prayed on it and realized these causes were more important to her than money. Her sponsor Converse, who had promoted signing her with her own quote, "The biggest thing is for me to use my platform as a microphone. That's the goal, be a voice for the voiceless," stepped in and covered her playing contract for the season. Cloud participated in a Black Lives Matter march in her Philadelphia hometown, and then led a protest on Juneteenth in Washington, D.C. In October, she created an election-themed t-shirt with Red Bull, Converse, and a Philadelphia retailer, with proceeds benefitting When We All Vote, a nonprofit organization aimed at closing the race and age voting gap.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike opted out of the 2020 WNBA bubble to nurse previous injuries, but she used her platform on ESPN, where in August she became the first Black woman to co-host her own daily sports-talk radio show, to encourage athletes to tap into their DNA that makes them good team members and work together for social change. The 28-year-old former No. 1 draft pick out of Stanford University practiced what she…
Christina Settimi
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