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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Five activist athletes were named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, honored for their accolades on the field and dedication to bettering the lives of others off it.

The big picture: The athletes, ranging across three sports, "were champions in every sense of the word: champions on the field, champions for others off it," displaying leadership during a difficult year for the nation, the magazine writes.

  • Naomi Osaka: The U.S. Open champion wore a different face mask for each of her seven matches, honoring seven Black victims of racial injustice and police brutality "to make people start talking."
  • Breanna Stewart: Seattle Storm's star and this year's WNBA Finals MVP played an integral role over the summer in the ongoing fight against racism, regularly attending protests and successfully lobbying the league to include "Black Lives Matter" on the court in the bubble.
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The Chiefs' starting right guard helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl in 50 years before returning home to Canada — where he remains, having opted out of the season — to put his medical doctorate to good use, working on the front lines of the pandemic at a long-term care facility.
  • Patrick Mahomes: The Super Bowl MVP was not only instrumental in pushing the league to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement back in June, but also helped fund the voting machines that allowed Arrowhead Stadium to become a polling location.
  • LeBron James: The elder statesman of the group, James won his fourth NBA title while launching "More than a Vote," an organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression and encouraging voter education.

Go deeper: Sportsperson of the year, the activist athlete (SI)

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jun 26, 2020 - Sports

Universities cut sports teams, as they struggle with coronavirus fallout

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As universities scramble to survive the financial fallout of the coronavirus, sports teams are being cut, abruptly ending thousands of student-athletes' careers and exposing a collegiate sports model that many believe is broken.

Why it matters: With concern about the fall football season growing by the day, the fear is that the cuts have only just begun.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."