In response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, more than 15 professional sporting events were boycotted or postponed last Wednesday, Aug. 26, to show player support for the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
There had been rumors and discussions about the possibility of boycotting games in light of recent events, but no one knew what to expect until the Milwaukee Bucks made their decision. The players, along with their coaching staff, chose to not take the court come tip-off on Wednesday afternoon. The team made the collective decision that the best way to spark action among others was to take a powerful stand themselves. In the case of the NBA, the teams are in the midst of the first two rounds of playoffs, so the games have higher stakes than a normal matchup. By striking, they are showing that despite the importance of these games, there are more pressing issues than basketball right now.
The Bucks were the first team, but certainly not the only. Teams from the WNBA, MLS and MLB followed the lead of Milwaukee and boycotted their respective games on Wednesday night. After the players made the decision not to play, both the NBA and WNBA postponed all games on Wednesday and Thursday to show their support for the athletes and figure out the best way to move forward.
The NBA and WNBA have both had meetings between players and league executives to discuss the best way to proceed and the best way for them to use their platforms to influence social justice reform. After beginning discussions and drafting plans of action, both leagues have decided to resume games but have pledged to continue their conversations about racial injustice.
Players have continued to speak out and have said that just because they are playing again, does not mean they are going to be silent. They will continue to fight.
Many athletes, both past and present, have shown their support to these athletes and their decision to strike. Former Villanova Basketball star and Golden State Warriors’ Eric Paschall, tweeted, “For those who don’t understand what is going on, it will always be bigger than basketball! We demand change!!! We demand justice! Have a blessed day!”
Following suit, former Villanova teammate and current Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges tweeted, “I swear its not that hard to understand that WE as human beings just want to be treated equal ... and if u don’t understand that then im sorry for your ignorance.”
Professional athletes are given a massive platform and feel a sense of duty to speak up and be activists for social issues. With the number of lives they impact, they have the ability to truly make a difference.
Athletes have faced criticism in the past for trying to get involved with social justice issues, but that has never stopped them from taking action. Over the past week, there have been stories reminding fans of the many times when athletes have spoken out and fought for what they believe.
Athletes have been involved in countless movements, such as the fights for gender equality, gay rights, civil rights and continuing the conversation with police brutality. These boycotts and the further actions of the athletes will continue to affect social activism and the way that these movements progress for a long time to come.