The Miami Dolphins have decided to begin a fund and scholarship program unlike any other.
The Dolphins, a team which had players protest all the way until the end of the season, have begun accepting applications for a social justice fund, and will soon bestow a scholarship to a local student. In addition to giving grants to various programs geared towards social change.
According to the Miami Herald, “In November, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and players including Michael Thomas announced a yearly fund for advocacy and social justice.
“That was in response to demonstrations by players throughout the league promoting equality and criminal justice reform. Thomas and teammates Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas knelt during the national anthem this fall to protest what they viewed as unfair treatment by police of African Americans.”
According to Dolphins’ Senior Vice President Jason Jenkins, the program has a very specific purpose.
“To identify and recognize groups focused on community engagement, education and justice reform. It was important to Stephen Ross, our players and members of the organization to use sports as a way to drive social progress and make substantial change in our community.”
As the Herald explains, “The Dolphins will each year award a Project Change college scholarship to one deserving student committed to enacting social justice change. They will also provide funding to groups with the same goal, sponsor the Police Athletic League of North Miami and host a police and youth conference in conjunction with the 5000 Role Models Excellence Project.
“These programs are in addition to the team’s work with RISE, a non-profit started in 2015 that uses sports to promote understanding, respect and equality.”
The NFL’s anthem protest movement began in the preseason of 2016, when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat, then knelt, in protest against police brutality. Kaepernick continued his protest throughout the 2016 season, but has not suited-up for another NFL team since walking away from his contract in San Francisco at the end of that year.
Despite Kaepernick’s absence in 2017, the protest movement he began continued without him. Increasing in intensity during Week 3 of the season, after President Trump blasted the protesting players at a political rally. During that weekend over 200 players, executives, and coaches, protested the anthem and President Trump.
However, after that weekend, the number of protesting players dwindled to the point where only 19 players protested in the final week of the season.