The NBA has a history of supporting voter access and civic engagement. From teams hosting voter registration drives to outspoken players like Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and LeBron James advocating their own causes.
This year on Tuesday, November 8th, the league is supporting voter efforts to increase registration and participation by refraining from hosting any games on Election Day for the first time ever.
“We want people to participate. We want people to learn and grow to understand the issues that affect them, their families and their communities,” said James Cadogan, Executive Director of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition who added, “And it starts with participation.”
Additionally, the day before on November 7th all 30 teams will be playing with a specific message on civic engagement.
“We'll be doing messaging across those games, around encouraging people to get out and vote, to make a plan and to get out to the polls,” said Cadogan.
The arrangement of this season’s schedule around Election Day took a large-scale collaboration across the NBA including league office departments, communications, the social responsibility team, players and NBA teams. Cadogan says the midterm initiative was inspired by the success of the League’s 2020 civic engagement efforts - prior to the coalition’s founding.
“In 2020, we had significant efforts on civic engagement,” said Cadogan who added, “And the question that we're trying to answer is - in 2022, what else can we do to make sure that we're encouraging fans and voters in communities across the country to get out?”
The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition was founded in 2020 and functions as the advocacy arm of the NBA to drive policy and legislative change on social justice issues including criminal justice, voting rights, and policing reform. Since its founding, the coalition has been working to support legislation as well as supporting individual team efforts and causes that align with the coalition’s work.
Cadogan said that encouraging participation in the upcoming midterm election was one that members across the league felt it was important to elevate collectively.
“One thing that almost everybody can agree on is the more of us who get out to vote and express our views, the better our democracy is going to be,” said Cadogan.
The coalition has also partnered with BET on the #ReclaimYourVote 2022 initiative to elevate their get-out-the-vote messaging.
“BET has always been a voice for the black community. And so, it's really important for us to be able to partner with organizations that understand the black community and can help us work to boost voting participation rates.”
In addition to no games played on Election Day, Cadogan says the coalition will all be supporting team-led activations including early voting and drop box locations during the last week of October. Cadogan says players have also been active with voter drive efforts and will likely become more involved as the days countdown to November 8th.
“All we're looking for with these civic engagement efforts is to make sure as many people know about the elections on November 8 and that's not just federal midterm elections - that's their state elections or local elections that are happening the same day,” said Cadogan.
While the NBA Social Justice Coalition is amplifying the league-wide voter engagement effort for the current election, Cadogan says his office will continue to look at building on this year’s momentum for future elections.
“2022 is important. 2024 will be important. And we'll continue to look to find ways to make sure that we are doing our part.”
The NBA is encouraging your participation in the #ReclaimYourVote2022 campaign by registering to vote and casting your ballot. You can also check your registration status or look at what’s on the ballot in your jurisdiction by going to their election's website.
Visit Reclaim Your Vote: Your Voice, Your Power, Our Democracy for more information.
Visit vote.gov to register to vote, check your registration status, and find voter registration deadlines.