Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Chisam, E. 2019. Progress is a Game of Inches: A History and Analysis of Athlete Activism Before and During the Age of Social Media. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. May 2019.


Copyright Elic Chisam 2019.


With services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, anybody can spread their message to hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and because of this, people of a certain fame can communicate directly with millions of people that look up to them. Professional athletes are no exception. Lebron James, Colin Kaepernick, and Steph Curry are among the many star athletes who have taken advantage of social media to advocate for change in their communities as well as across the United States.

Is athletes’ use of social media leading to change or is it simply a new platform for them to spread their message? This paper will compare two periods of athlete activism; the Civil Rights movement from the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter movement of the 2010s. It will look at the efforts of athletes before and during the age of social media and analyze the two to see what impact social media has made. It will also look at the roles of corporations and their history of refraining from partnering with activist athletes to their willingness to do so. The paper will close by analyzing the impact social media has had on activism efforts of professional athletes.