Despite the criticism of the true intentions behind the NBA’s active efforts to increase voter turnout, it does not change the fact that they have indeed increased the number of citizens voting in this year’s elections. The voter turnout for the 2016 elections was a mere 58.1%, which was out of 138 million Americans who were eligible to vote — not to mention the millions of people who are not registered to vote.
The NBA has been very effective at increasing the votes of both millennials and members of Gen Z. Their advocacy encouraged even younger audiences, particularly young African American citizens, to be aware of how important it is to vote. With the death of George Floyd, which increased the visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, black athletes including those in the NBA partnered with More Than a Vote to push for further activism.
Influencers should be applauded when they are aware of the amount of influence they hold with their presence alone and utilize it in a way that benefits and educates younger audiences about relevant issues. LeBron James, for example, uses his popularity and social media platform as a channel to encourage fans to use their voice when it comes to individual political action.
Although it is inappropriate to force your audience to place their vote on a particular person, it is a different story when one simply encourages their fellow citizens to at least put in a vote. After all, it is for the sake of the future of the country, and the vote should at least be for themselves.
Overall, it is a heroic deed for the NBA and their influential athletes to educate their respective audience, despite there being speculation of them doing it with ill intent.
For the past presidential elections, voter turnout has continuously decreased. However, as the NBA opens its facilities and shows this form of activism, it is bound to increase voter turnout. Thanks to major sports corporations (not excluding the NFL and WNBA), voter turnout will increase this year and pivot against apathetic or ignorant politics.
Sports stars usually have not been very vocal about their political stances since everyone is focused on the results of their respective games. However, if influential celebrities continue to speak on the behalf of their corporations, there is no doubt they are at least being effective in increasing the number of people turning out to vote.