Feb 01, 2021 • 7 min read
February marks Black History Month, a time to reflect on the significant roles that Black Americans and African-Americans have played in shaping U.S. history.
At TeamSnap, we want to celebrate the impacts that Black athletes have had on the lives of players, fans, and coaches. We asked our fellow TeamSnappers and TeamSnap users to share how they’ve been inspired by their favorite Black athletes.
I am inspired by Crystal Dunn and Serena Williams. I admire how versatile and flexible they are. I also admire how they know when to focus along with having some fun as well. They both work very hard and seek results from their hard work.
Serena is someone I looked up to growing up playing tennis, and still do. She is the best tennis player of all time. I admire her hard-work because she truly is an icon in tennis but transcends the sport. She’s dominated for years and redefined the sport for women of color.
If I’m just naming a couple, I’m inspired by Michael Jordan and Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton is the best Formula 1 driver the world has ever seen. An expensive, privileged sport; F1 does nothing for diversity. Lewis and his whole family had to fight their way into the circuit, operating on a shoe-string budget while fighting racism on every front.
Seven F1 championships later, and there can be no disputing his talent. Born of dedication and incredibly hard work, this should be the time for sponsorships and lucrative advertising deals. Instead, Lewis is challenging the aging oligarchy of the sport itself; Kneeling on podiums with other drivers, covering up sponsors with Black Lives Matter shirts, and demanding inroads into the sport for young talent that otherwise would never get the chance.
I am inspired by Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Natasha Hastings because of their determination, discipline and competitive spirit. I especially loved Serena when she was in Nike’s “Real Women” campaign that embraced her curves while being an insane athlete. Natasha also trained for the Olympics while pregnant!!
Humility, dignity, bravery, courage, admiration, determination, wholesomeness
Hank Aaron, who just recently passed away, inspired me on the field with his skills in baseball, but more importantly, he inspired me off the field. He fought against so much backlash and racism all while playing a sport he loved and building a lasting baseball legacy. He inspires me to be the best version of myself in baseball and everyday life and that no obstacle is too big. His bravery, dignity, determination, and humility are qualities everyone should try to have. Here are some of my favorite quotes from him:
“I tell young people — including my granddaughter — there is no shortcut in life. You have to take it one step at a time and work hard. And you have to give back.”
“The way I see it, it’s a great thing to be the man who hit the most home runs, but it’s a greater thing to be the man who did the most with the home runs he hit. So as long as there’s a chance that maybe I can hammer out a little justice now and then or a little opportunity here and there, I intend to do as I always have — keep swinging.”
Bo Jackson is my all-time favorite athlete. He was a true two-sport athlete and there have been very few people that did it at the level he did. He was a natural phenomenon, very intelligent, and a hard worker. There’s a lot to look up to in Bo!
I admire MJ’s relentless effort for himself and the people around him to reach goals they had set regardless of what other people thought. He has an incredible work ethic and demanded the same from the other people around him.
Dez had so many tough circumstances to overcome from his childhood, much harder than most. And his determination made him one of the best receivers in his prime. That determination showed when he was let go by the Cowboys, injured, and still came back with the Ravens and made some big contributions. Despite everything he has gone through he never gave up.
Both Naomi and Colin are incredible athletes but what I admire the most is the courage they have to use their platform to speak out against injustice. It would be much easier for them to focus on their craft and keep quiet but they are willing to face extreme criticism, backlash, and even being blacklisted to speak up for those who can’t. They have set beautiful examples of not only how to be a standup athlete, but how to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard.
Sydney LeRoux isn’t afraid to speak up for what she believes in. She is a fierce advocate for equality in pay in women’s sports, and across all jobs in the United States.
Brian Dawkins was one of my favorite players on the Eagles team. He was a powerhouse on the field but he also constantly motivated his teammates. His drive and passion helped shape his career. Now retired, he continues to give back to the community through his own organization focused on helping disadvantaged young people, families, and communities.
There are many more ways to celebrate Black History Month and Black culture year-round, beyond recognizing the ways Black athletes have inspired us in our lives, like shopping Black-owned businesses and reading Black-literature, just to name a couple. Check out what your local community is doing to celebrate (safely), ask your friends and family, or if you just want to delve deeper into Black History Month, check out Oprah Magazine’s resources here. Hopefully, this article is just a starting point for your Black History Month inspiration and celebration.