The US election still has twists and turns but Joe Biden has been announced the president-elect after defeating Donald Trump, but sports stars such as LeBron James played a huge part in rallying voters.
In a year the US has seen both a shamefully inadequate response to a pandemic that in this country has disproportionately affected Black people and a racial reckoning after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody, athletes and even the leagues they play in have gone above and beyond in registering eligible voters and encouraging people to vote.
And their work to help register voters may have swung the election, which was decided by tight margins in a number of states.
One such state where it appears LA Lakers star James’ contribution made a difference was in Michigan.
According to the Detroit Free Press, not only did more people than usual across the state cast a ballot, in Detroit, where over three-quarters of residents are Black, Black voter turnout was the highest it’s been in 20 years.
In June, LeBron James partnered with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to start the More Than A Vote organisation, which focused on several areas, all aimed at getting out the vote in Michigan and elsewhere.
And by the time the votes had been counted, Michigan sided with Biden.
US sport teams rally around US election
One city resident was aware of what it meant for the community and told MSNBC, “We’re not deterred; as goes Detroit will go Michigan. The Black vote in Detroit is higher than it’s ever been and we will determine the outcome. We’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents.”
The Detroit Pistons became one of the first pro sports teams to work to get their arena online as a voting location, and over 40 arenas and stadiums around the country followed suit.
While a large percentage of people took advantage of the opportunity to vote by mail because of COVID, with the virus still raging, having essentially the largest available facility to go to for those who wanted to vote in-person offered ample space for social distancing and led to shorter wait times in many localities.
The Milwaukee Bucks were another NBA team to make a statement in the lead up to the US election.
And it may have made a difference.
Black voters in Milwaukee pushed Wisconsin to Biden as well, just a few months after Milwaukee Bucks players made the extraordinary decision to strike and not play a playoff game after police shot Jacob Blake just miles from their home court.
For days leading up to November 3, the Bucks’ Twitter feed was almost exclusively dedicated to voting information, reminders and encouragement.
NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, joined James in the More Than A Vote organisation.
He split the cost, pledging $100,000, to make Arrowhead Stadium a polling station.
While Missouri remained Red, it was the effort that was recognised.
Regardless of the result, many US athletes can be applauded for their effort to encourage millions to go out and vote and educate themselves on one of the bedrocks of the US
with Shalise Manza Young - Yahoo Sport US
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