NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION PARTNERS WITH FIT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE T-SHIRT STUDENT DESIGN CONTEST
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of its continued efforts to raise awareness for racial equity and provide a voice for marginalized populations, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and its marketing and licensing arm, NFL Players Inc., are teaming up with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for the Spring 2023 NFLPA Social Justice T-Shirt Student Design Contest Presented by FIT.
During Black History Month (February 1-28), students currently enrolled at FIT will have the opportunity to utilize their skills to support the development of a unique and original T-shirt design that addresses the social justice issue of healthcare access and equity. Those awarded first, second and third place will receive a cash prize from the NFLPA, with the first-place winner earning the potential to have their design featured and worn by NFLPA player members during the 2023 summer training camp period.
The impetus for this initiative stretches back to the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, when people of color, athletes, students and other activists collectively called for systemic change through marches, peaceful demonstrations and other creative measures.
Along with undertaking grassroots efforts to combat racism and injustice in their communities, NFL players across the league kicked off that season by wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the phrases “An Injustice Against One of Us Is An Injustice Against All Of Us” and “End Racism.” NFLPA Executive Committee member Michael Thomas and his clothing brand “No Excuses” led the production of the T-shirts, which are still worn today by some players during pregame warm-ups.
“When we opened the 2020 season with all of us wearing our T-shirts for social justice, it sent a message that those on the ground fighting for the cause had the support of NFL players, which was huge,” said Thomas, who is also a defender for the Cincinnati Bengals. “Now, some three years later, it’s important that we keep applying pressure for the movement against systemic racism, and this initiative with us at the NFLPA and the Social Justice Center at FIT is a great way to continue raising awareness.”
Since then, the NFLPA has formed an internal Social Justice Taskforce for its staff to provide player members with informational resources, amplify their collective voices and connect them with stakeholders to create positive change. NFL Players Inc. also launched the Minority Participation and Access Committee (MPAC) to highlight and create commercial opportunities through partners that support the mission of the union’s Social Justice Taskforce.
FIT also demonstrated its commitment to equity by opening its own Social Justice Center at FIT in 2021. This first-of-its kind initiative in higher education addresses the diversity issues faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People Of Color) students and working professionals throughout their education and career development. Its mission is to increase the number of BIPOC youth who choose careers in the fashion industry and related fields.
Through this T-shirt design competition, the NFLPA and FIT hope to use their influence and innovation to further inspire both the conversations and work that still remain in building a more equitable, just society.
“FIT is honored to partner with the NFL Players Association on this contest,” Social Justice Center Executive Director Nicole F. Ndzibah said. “The Social Justice Center endeavors to address equity and access in the creative industries, beginning with creating a pipeline for BIPOC students through education and career support.
“Societally, social justice is reaching farther than our industry. This contest allows our students to creatively interpret an overarching theme of social justice and graphically depict it through their lens, to shine a light on different areas of inequity,” Ndzibah continued. “It is our hope that by amplifying these themes, it will keep the conversations and activism surrounding social justice top of mind.”
About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through the 2030 NFL season. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.
A part of the State University of New York (SUNY), FIT has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology throughout its history. Providing almost 9,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Its distinctive curriculum is geared to today’s rapidly growing creative economy, including fields such as computer animation, toy design, production management, film and media, and cosmetics and fragrance marketing. Internationally renowned, FIT draws on its New York City location to provide a vibrant, creative community in which to learn. The college offers nearly 50 majors and grants AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees, preparing students for professional success and leadership in the new creative economy. Among notable alumni in fashion are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Norma Kamali, Reem Acra, Brian Atwood, Stephen Burrows, Dennis Basso, Daniel Roseberry, Francisco Costa, Nanette Lepore, Bibhu Mohapatra, Ralph Rucci, John Bartlett, Peter Do, and Michelle Smith. Other prominent graduates include Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals; international restaurant designer Tony Chi; and Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of ELLE. fitnyc.edu