Sideline Racism

The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) launched its “Sideline Racism” public awareness campaign in December 2016 to coincide with the NFL’s inaugural My Cause, My Cleats initiative.


My Cause, My Cleats permitted NFL players to wear cleats that highlighted a charitable cause important to them during a designated week of the regular season.

In six games during Week 13 of the 2016 season, 13 players from nine NFL teams wore “Sideline Racism” cleats supporting RISE and its mission to improve race relations and drive social progress. Featuring the phrase “Sideline Racism,” the RISE logo and the player’s number, the cleats were gold, to show that the gold standard is treating everyone with respect and dignity.

NFL players who chose to wear RISE’s “Sideline Racism” cleats for 2016 were:

  • Andre Branch (Dolphins)

  • Jurrell Casey (Titans)

  • Mike Evans (Buccaneers)

  • Brandon Graham (Eagles)

  • Justin Hunter (Bills)

  • Jelani Jenkins (Dolphins)

  • Trumaine Johnson (Rams)

  • Tyrann Mathieu (Cardinals)

  • Derrick Morgan (Titans)

  • Robert Nkemdiche (Cardinals)

  • Mike Pouncey (Dolphins)

  • Jimmy Smith (Ravens)

  • Brandon Williams (Ravens)

In addition to the NFL campaign, RISE Advisory Board member Draymond Green of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors helped to extend RISE’s cause. Green wore special RISE sneakers with a similar design to the cleats in a December 2016 game against the Phoenix Suns and sported the sneakers again during the nationally televised rematch between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on Martin Luther King Day in January 2017.

RISE also had a “Sideline Racism” clinic in February 2017 with the Warriors for 100 youth to further the discussion on these issues.


Green continued his support of “Sideline Racism” in March 2017 by surprising San Leandro High School senior Taylor Bazile with a signed pair of “Sideline Racism” sneakers and several pairs of her own. He surprised Taylor prior to a Golden State Warriors home game. Taylor, a 2017 college scholarship recipient through the Bay Area All-Star Scholarship Team, founded a high school anti-bullying club and has worked to strengthen community-police relationships.

RISE also distributed “Sideline Racism” T-shirts and wristbands to fans at major sporting events and to student-athlete participants in RISE’s educational programs at universities and high schools throughout the country.


Components of the “Sideline Racism” campaign have included social media with the #SidelineRacism hashtag, as well as traditional media coverage.