The sporting world saw unprecedented action by athletes from the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS. The athletes in the various professional leagues said enough, is enough and they all agreed to strike and not play Wednesday night and join the unified call for Justice. The unprecedented show of solidarity started with the Milwaukee Bucks players who refused to take the floor for their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
The Bucks players were staging the protest in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake.T Blake a Kenosha Wisconsin resident was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police while his children watched. The early medical prognosis is that Blake will survive the horrific shooting incident but will be paralyzed from the waist down.
CALL FOR JUSTICE GAINS MOMENTUM
For the Bucks players, the Blake shooting was the tipping of a message that while repeated has caused no structural change. Never mind the stay in your lane comments those are words that cannot hurt you. For the Bucks players what can hurt a black man and woman is police using excessive force resulting in a senseless murder. The five other NBA teams joined the Bucks in the call for Justice. The WNBA has been a leader in the call for Social Justice, so it was no surprise the league made the decision to stay on the sidelines. The Seattle Storm were not scheduled to play Wednesday. The Milwaukee Brewers announced they would not play their Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.
MARINERS STAND FOR JUSTICE
The Seattle Mariners have more black players than any other team in Major League Baseball and stayed true to the cause electing not to play their game against the San Diego Padres. The Mariners recently launched a comprehensive community initiative to have more kids of color to participate in the game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers game against the San Francisco Giants was also postponed. The Mariners will play a seven-inning doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
SOUNDERS SHOW SUPPORT
A few days after sending out a press release announcing the “WE ARE ALL SOUNDERS,” Social Justice Framework campaign the Sounders canceled their Wednesday Night game against the LA Galaxy.
SOUNDERS FC FORWARD JORDAN MORRIS:
“For us, this fight for equality is so much bigger than sports. You see what has happened with Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor, there hasn’t been justice. There’s been no arrests. It seems like nothing has changed. So as an organization, as a club, as players, we came together to show our support and solidarity with the Black community and to really try to be a driving force for change. This has been going on for way too long and obviously everyone knows and understands that it needs to change, so we’re trying to do our part to help drive that change forward.”
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER CRISTIAN ROLDAN:
“I think we as players, we want to play the game that we love. But there are so many things going on in the world, in this country, that matter more. Tonight is a case where we want to use our platform to educate and help shine a light on racial inequality – to show it matters and we can’t just go about daily life as usual anymore. Regardless of race, everyone deserves a chance for an equal life and the fact that that is something that Black people in America have never had is something that needs to change. That is the message behind us not playing.”
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER GUSTAV SVENSSON:
“We as professional athletes have the luxury to decide to play or not, while some people don’t have the luxury of justice in life. Therefore, I will always do what I can to show the world that I stand for what’s right and equality.”
SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER:
“I fully support the players’ decision. As an American citizen, it is clear to me that our country is incredibly divided, and it saddens me that some people seem not to understand the importance of this movement. The violence that we are witnessing across our nation needs to be addressed, and tonight I am proud of the players for taking a stand and using their voices.” –
NOW WHAT ?
The move by the players in their respective leagues was unprecedented raised eyebrows in and out of sports. The important question is how all of this will dramatically break down the walls of institutionalized racism and police brutality. How and who will hold the individuals and institutions accountable. What steps will each of the leagues take to make a significant change? The structures that still have black and brown children at the back of the bus. Even worse living in fear each time they are encounter a Law Enforcement official never knowing is this one of the good ones or the bad ones. And if treated badly by one of the bad ones how will they be held accountable. The players are demanding equal treatment for all. Dallas Maverick head coach Doc Rivers said it best in his postgame interview.