- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2020

Countless athletes and coaches from across the world of sports have spoken out against racism in the weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many have even marched in Black Lives Matter protests. Now, more and more sports figures are putting their money where their mouths are.

Athletes both black and white, and ranging in notoriety from Michael Jordan to collegiate tailbacks, continue to donate money to Black Lives Matter and similar racial justice causes.

Jordan, famously apolitical during his playing days, made waves over the weekend when he and Jordan Brand pledged $100 million over 10 years to groups that pursue racial equality and social justice.

“Black lives matter. This isn’t a controversial statement,” a statement from Jordan Brand read in part. “Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of Black people.”

Some athletes are making efforts at the local level, too. Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and his wife Brandi Holtby announced on Monday an auction called “Get Off the Bench for Racial Equality,” in which fans can bid on items signed by Holtby and some of his Capitals teammates. Proceeds will benefit Black Lives Matter D.C. and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Holtbys additionally will donate $5,000 to each group.

In addition to pucks, a jersey and a piece of wood artwork all autographed by Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson signed some items up for bid.

On Friday, Holtby told reporters he and his wife wanted to “lay out a game plan for an extended period of time where we believe we can help change.” He also felt that hockey was “behind as a sport” in taking on issues of racism and social justice, but added that he believes that’s changing.

Indeed, other NHL players have donated as well. New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, who is black, last week donated $50,000 to the GoFundMe for Floyd’s family, which was raising money for funeral and legal costs after Floyd died from a police officer kneeling on his neck. Subban got the NHL to match his donation.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who is white, and his family donated $25,000 to the Boston branch of the NAACP and $25,000 to a pro-immigration center in his native Quebec.

While NCAA athletes aren’t paid (for now), that didn’t stop University of Washington running back Sean McGrew from adding his own donation to the mix.

“The recent events of injustice and hate against my African-American brothers has gotten to me, and I just wanted to say a couple things,” McGrew said in an Instagram video last week. “I know that me being white, I’ll never understand what you guys go through on a daily basis. But I see your pain and it hurts me that people I consider family to me are constantly looking over their shoulder in situations that they shouldn’t have to. I pray and hope for a world where you guys can feel safe when there’s a cop around, just like I do.”

McGrew donated $250 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network and $258.32 to the Black Visions Collective, and encouraged his followers to donate as well.
Deep-pocketed NFL owners have also pitched in — most recently Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whose family pledged $1 million to groups “fighting for equity, working to end systemic racism, and creating meaningful change in our community,” not long after he released a statement about Floyd’s death.

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers also pledged $1 million worth of similar donations last week.

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