Though Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated between September 15 and October 15, the National Football League (NFL) is using it to jumpstart a longer-lasting program.
The NFL, alongside the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), partnered with Puerto Rican singer Ozuna to incorporate Latinx Heritage Month into its sports season in a program called “Feel the Orgullo.” Orgullo is the Spanish word for pride.
Together, they are working to “recognize Latinx youth who have contributed to the sports and fitness arenas,” the HHF states on the purpose of the partnership. They will grant money to selected youth applicants for a college education and “to enhance their community service efforts,” according to the HHF.
Miguel Calderon Sanchez is a Berkeley High School (BHS) senior of Latinx heritage. He started playing football his freshman year, and now plays on the BHS varsity team.
Referring to the NFL’s “Feel the Orgullo’’ project, Calderon Sanchez said, “I think it’s pretty cool to see, especially because in the NFL there aren’t too many [Latinx] players, but I’ve noticed that [Latinx people] really love to see that kind of representation.”
When asked how Latinx culture stood out to him in sports, Calderon Sanchez said, “In my experience, Mexican parents love seeing their children do sports. Especially if the parents are immigrants, because they like seeing their kids do something with their lives, achieving what they are wanting to do.”
Calderon Sanchez expressed that he’s seen Latinx players recognized in sports such as football and soccer but he “would like to see more [Latinx] representation in other sports.”
Stephen Ruby, a math teacher in BHS’s Universal 9th Grade (U9) whose grandparents immigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico, has seen an increase in Latinx sports representation over his lifetime. He said, “Most major sporting leagues have become more diverse, and as a result, I have seen a lot more Latinx players represented at the highest level in many sports … compared to when I was a young kid.”
Ruby also said, “In a sport I follow closely, … [mixed martial arts], many Mexican American fighters have become champions, and we are seeing a growing number of Latinx fighters enter that sport. I doubt it will take long until they start to dominate that sport just like they do boxing, because Latinx culture values a fighting spirit and the ability to work hard.”
The “Feel the Orgullo” project aims not only to recognize the holistic values and history celebrated by Latinx Heritage Month, but to support young Latinx athletes in their missions to better themselves and their communities.