Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills had an innovative idea last year. Having recently become interested both in politics and working as a voice for social change, the 25-year-old decided it was time for his team to think about getting more involved, too. So one day early in the 2016 NFL season, he printed out dozens of voter registration forms and stuck them in each of his 52 teammates’ lockers. “I was already registered, but I thought it would be cool for the team, to get everyone involved,” he said of the personal campaign he began a couple months before the 2016 presidential election. His effort didn’t exactly go as planned, however. “I didn’t get too many responses,” he said.
Not wanting to give up, he passed the idea to the Dolphins head of player development, and it eventually got the attention of owner Stephen Ross, who the year before had founded the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a nonprofit dedicated to using sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.
Flash forward a year later and RISE is launching a new initiative called RISE to Vote, a year-long campaign that kicks off on Monday, a day before National Voter Registration Day, with the goal of registering as many professional athletes as possible.
Stills said having more organizational effort, as well as the team’s front office involved, made his goal to get his teammates registered to vote “a lot easier,” and today, while he can’t say for sure, he thinks the whole team is registered.