NEW YORK, NY – It has been another tough week in America. On the heels of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the protests that ensued, the sports world was rocked by the news that several teams and leagues would join the protest.
The Milwaukee Bucks led the charge when they decided not to take the court on Wednesday. Soon after, all of the NBA games scheduled for Wednesday were called off. Then an handful of baseball teams decided not to play, the WNBA joined in and called off Wednesday and Thursday’s games, Major League Soccer called off Wednesday night’s schedule of games, and even tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in protest.
Thursday, the NHL joined the protest and postponed their schedule of games. It is amazing to see players, teams and leagues not simply ignoring the social unrest like they have done for most of history. As Buddy Diaz pointed out yesterday, the “Shut up and play” mentality of fans, teams, leagues and owners is hopefully on the way out.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos had their reputations tarnished for their protest on the podium in ’68. Colin Kaepernick was run out of the NFL for protesting the very same thing teams and leagues are still protesting today. Ignoring or suppressing a problem does not make the problem go away.
It’s great to see the sports world not only acknowledging the unrest, but making a statements. Sports serve as a welcome distraction from the world at times. But sometimes we shouldn’t be distracted from these issues. This week, the sports world took a huge step in the right direction by not just ignoring the world around them and continuing on with business as usual. 2020 has been an awful year, but one bright spot has been the sports world acknowledging the society around them.
The NBA will return to action this weekend as will most other sports. There’s still money to be made and championships to win. Like anything else, the sports world will go on. But the NBA, WNBA, MLS, and NHL have sent a message that the leagues and players are a part of our society and shouldn’t have to sit silent on societal issues. This is progress. One hopes that we will all wake up one day and our country’s problems with injustice and inequality will magically be solved. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. The best thing to hope for is progress every step of the way.
This week’s protests around the sports world are a sign of progress to me. Feel free to leave your comments below and come back for Short Matt tomorrow.