Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith wanted to do something to show his team that he was all-in on the social injustice initiatives and BLM movement.
So the franchise decided to award four-year college scholarships to underrepresented and minority students for every team win.
Smith stated the ambitious goal is to help those who don’t have the financial means to attend an accredited university or lack knowledge about how the admissions process works.
This program will be the first of its kind in any sport to date and the hope is that the concept will flourish. The plan is to approach different colleges and universities looking for multiple scholarship opportunities for students who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to attend college.
Basically, the program is like a feeder system, where minority students are identified and already have the tuition covered for whatever college they are academically eligible for.
The Jazz went 3-0 in the preseason and are now 7-4 in the regular season, meaning that’s 10 scholarships waiting to be claimed.
What a way to make a difference in the new year: @utahjazz and @RyanQualtrics are offering a 4 year college scholarship to underrepresented minority students for every win by the team 🙏🏾 https://t.co/vLUhrxunas
— Farren Roper (@FarrenRoper) January 10, 2021
This initiative has become a motivator for the Jazz players, with Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles following up on the plan with Smith following a preseason win. Both wanted to confirm that preseason wins also counted as it pertains to the scholarships, and Looking to drive home change, this is a great initiative by a new and exuberant owner.
Smith and the Jazz are hoping to address the social issues that have taken center stage in the world and NBA over the last year. The Jazz has been impacted directly with star player Mitchell being one of the league’s most outspoken players on the fight for social equality. — especially inside the Bubble.
The NBA’s support for BLM even led one local company to pull their renewal of a luxury suite at the team’s home arena (Vivint Arena).
This occurrence caused Smith to look at his own company, Qualtrics, and how improving its shortcomings on equality issues could help serve as a catalyst as to how the Jazz could improve in these areas.
The NBA itself removed most of the forward-facing of support for social justice issues when the Bubble ended and the 2021 season began. This also included the removal of the Black Lives Matter phrase from NBA courts and discontinuing social justice phrases on the backs of players’ jerseys.
That’s fine because the work is underway and moving in the right direction. The players’ unified stance showed in the Orlando Bubble when games were postponed following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
The women of the WNBA were front and center as well in Bradenton, home of the “Wubble.” Young minority women will also benefit from the Jazz’s win for scholarships program.
The fight against social injustice will have its up and downs, but we must stay the course and continue to persevere. If the 2020 elections are any sign, it shows what we can accomplish as a people when we’re locked in, informed, and engaged.