An unprecedented event took place in the sports world on Wednesday. It began with the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA announcing in a statement that they would not play their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Kenosha is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Once the Bucks decided not to play, the floodgates opened for other teams in multiple sports to do the same. All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night were canceled, as were all scheduled WNBA games.
Additionally, the Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play their game against the Cincinnati Reds, joining their neighbor the Bucks in protest. Players also decided not to play games between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers and the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.
Some individual MLB players opted not to play Thursday night even with their team’s games going on as planned, including Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs and Matt Kemp of the Colorado Rockies.
The protest went even further for the Bucks, as they were in contact the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin Wednesday night.
The Bucks have also been out in front of other recent social movements, being the first team in the NBA to join protests after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody back on May 25.
The NBA players also met in the bubble in Orlando on Wednesday night to discuss the status of the remainder of the season and whether or not more games will be canceled.
Many players in the NBA have been very vocal over the last three months since Floyd’s death and in the years prior. Both the NBA and WNBA included social justice messages on their courts and jerseys this season.
The mass protest seen on Wednesday was initially shocking, but in light of the social unrest and protests of racial injustice recently, it should not be that shocking.
It reflects the pain and anger of a Black community that has been mistreated and discriminated against in this country for decades. Now these athletes are using their status and platforms in an attempt to push for real change and justice in America. Silently protesting is great and can be effective, but a massive and highly visible gesture like the one that took place Wednesday night can potentially spark real progress.
We are lucky to have these young men and women across the sports world that decided to take a stand and speak up against things that they find wrong and unjust.
I am sure that many Americans will be upset that the games were canceled. The refrains of “stick to sports” and “shut up and dribble” will echo around social media. Some people want their sports experience to be free of politics, but these athletes are human beings and citizens as well.
They have a right to use their status, and we should embrace that. Sports will never be completely separate from politic. Everything is political because politics affect everything. Many of the athletes who have spoken up are large Black men who are viewed as dangerous because of their size and skin color alone. They speak up because this is potentially a matter of life and death for them.
They speak up because they feel they need to, and we should support them. Real change does need to happen in this country, and the sports world hopefully sparked some change Wednesday.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]