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RISE report aims to help the NFL go ‘From Protest to Progress’

A Super Bowl town hall will discuss how the league and its players can put their activism to action

This season, the NFL saw one of its most socially conscious years to date. From players taking a knee during the national anthem to fancy cleats honoring civil rights leaders to the continuous support of charity to publicly speaking out against injustices to hospital visits, NFL players put in as much work off the field as they did on, and we appreciate it.

The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) is hosting a town hall meeting at Super Bowl LI titled “From Protest to Progress: The Power of Sports to Improve Race Relations,” on Friday from 3:30-6 p.m. CST. The town hall meeting will include a two-part discussion during which RISE will release a 2016 report that details the reach and impact of NFL athlete activism and provides recommendations and solutions the sports industry can use to help drive social change.

The report was a collaborative effort authored by Andrew Mac Intosh and Jocelyn Benson of RISE, Scott Pierce of Illinois State University, Daniel Taradash of the New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum and Karl Erickson of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. It is composed of more than 225 examples of athlete activism in the last half of 2016, ranging from protests, public statements, community outreach, special apparel, financial contributions and more. The report provides guidance on the best practices used in an effort to continue to promote change and a greater social impact.

“The ‘what comes next’ part is the most significant as athletes and sports fans seek to move from words to action to engage in meaningful social change,” said Benson.

The report makes recommendations on education, perspective-sharing, solution-building, infrastructure for collaboration, community engagement and studying impact.

Nine out of 32 NFL teams will have players participating in the town hall meeting. The discussion will include Johnson Bademosi, Glover Quin, and Anquan Boldin of the Detroit Lions, Andrew Hawkins and Josh McCown of the Cleveland Browns, Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks, James Ihedigbo of the Buffalo Bills, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants, Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets, Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins, Benjamin Watson and NFL Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams of the Baltimore Ravens. Besides NFL players, Roland Martin of TV One’s News One Now will be a part of the discussion.

The event will be broadcast on Wharton Business Radio on Sirius XM Channel 111 from 4-6 p.m. CST and will be streamed on Facebook LIVE (@RISEtoWINorg) from 4-6 p.m. CST. Founded in 2015 by Stephen M. Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, RISE is a nonprofit organization geared toward using the power of sports to improve race relations and drive social change. RISE unites sports leagues, athletes, media networks, educators, and sports professionals under RISE’s core values: understanding, respect, and equality.

Over its two years of existence, RISE has sponsored events in New York; Washington, D.C.; Indiana; California; Massachusetts; and Texas. Besides hosting events, RISE also challenges people to take an online pledge to help end racism. RISE has more than 30 organizations across the nation and anticipates that more than 50,000 people will participate in its program during the 2016-17 school year. So far, more than 1,900 people have pledged to help end racism.

Gertrude “Trudy” Joseph is a senior at UMass Amherst and intern with The Undefeated. She will probably be either the youngest “Gertrude” you will ever meet or the only “Gertrude” you will ever meet. From the birthplace of basketball (shout to the entire 413), Trudy believes the “Kobe System” is the single most important commercial of our time.