The Los Angeles Rams joined the greater L.A. area's other 10 professional sports teams to form The ALLIANCE: Los Angeles and embark on a five-year commitment to combating racial injustice.
An engagement like this bears an obligation to participating players, coaches and executives to continue engaging with the communities they have already been serving. On Tuesday, Rams head coach Sean McVay emphasized the importance of empowering players to carry out the alliance's mission.
"More than anything, it's giving them those options and what really resonates with them, because then it feels authentic and genuine," McVay said during a video conference with coaches and executives Tuesday morning. "And then you're using this platform for exactly what the intent is, and that's making a change and having that equity be more representative of everything, not just sports."
The goal of this collaborative effort between the Rams, Chargers, Dodgers, Angels, Kings, Ducks, Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club is to pursue change in communities of color and develop meaningful programs and drive investment and impact for social justice through sport. These pursuits will be made in partnership with the Play Equity Fund, a 501(c)3 public charity established in Los Angeles to drive social change across communities through sport.
As McVay alluded to, these endeavors can take on many different forms.
Specific to the Rams, some of the examples include defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day last month marching with peaceful protestors and writing an op-ed for Players Coalition explaining how racial justice begins with the United States education system and wide receiver Robert Woods brainstorming ideas in May such as hosting a signing party at a voting venue to increase turnout.
Additionally, Woods, Joseph-Day and punter Johnny Hekker were among the 1,400 athletes, coaches and executives who signed the Players Coalition's letter supporting a bill to end qualified immunity.
McVay believes the players won't need encouragement to participate given the powerful demonstrations shown through one-on-one conversations or in team meetings such as the one that took place on June 1. From that moment on, they've challenged the organization to put tangible actions in place and not just talk about it.
"We will certainly encourage it, but I think the best part about what we have going with the Rams is so many of our players are passionate, it's in their hearts to really contribute and make a difference," McVay said. "This provides an outstanding opportunity to do that with the city of LA and these 10 other organizations on the call through alliance."
According to Play Equity Fund and LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril, planned first steps for the alliance include a July 22 virtual panel which will dig deeper into the work it is engaging in. The next step after that is to engage with community organizations it is partnering with.
Eventually, the alliance will create a cohort of 14- to 18-year-olds they can follow to track impacts such as graduation rate and the college retention rate after entering college "which is so critical for black and brown communities over a five-year period of time," Simril said.
The alliance's progress and community impact will be tracked on PlanEquityFund.org. Like the ideas executed and conceptualized by Rams players, making a difference will take time, so Simril is asking for patience.
"We're really trying to change systems here," Simril said. "We're trying to be engaged in this over the long-term, and change in the communities in which we are supporting is not going to happen overnight. But the teams are committed to stay with this alliance, this partnership, to make sure we're driving impactful change in the communities who need it most."