Leagues and Athletes Across North America Boycott Games in Protest of Racial Injustice
The GIST: Yesterday, in protest of racial injustice, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their NBA playoff game. And, in one of the strongest collective actions we’ve seen in sports, the rest of the league and athletes from across North America are following suit.
The background: The boycott comes after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by police on Sunday, in front of his three young sons, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. Blake is just the latest in a too-long list of Black men and women who have been killed or injured at the hands of police.
The boycotts: Now the NBA is leading the charge in taking action. It started on Tuesday when the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics players met to discuss boycotting Game 1 of their conference semifinal series, scheduled for today. Raps head coach Nick Nurse even said that some of his players were considering leaving the bubble altogether.
- Then yesterday, as the buzzer sounded ahead of the first game of the day, Bucks players stayed in their locker room, deciding to boycott Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks later released this players’ statement explaining their incredibly powerful action.
- A few hours later, the NBA and their players association announced that, in light of the Bucks’ decision, Wednesday’s remaining games between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, and the LA Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, would also be postponed and rescheduled.
The team: The NBA is not alone in this. WNBA players also boycotted all three of their regular season games last night, and three MLB and five MLS games were boycotted, too.
- The Detroit Lions canceled their practice on Tuesday and many NFL players voiced their support of the Bucks. Superstar tennis player Naomi Osaka is also sitting out of today’s semifinal match in the Western & Southern Open.
- Meanwhile, the NHL and its players instead opted for a “moment of reflection” ahead of the Stanley Cup playoff games last night, which — sorry, not sorry — is just not enough.
The next steps?: We’re still waiting for them. Last night, NBA players held a meeting to decide on how to proceed, and the LA Lakers and Clippers were the only teams that voted to boycott the remainder of the season.
- Regardless of what happens next, the players have already made a strong statement. By boycotting an entire day of games, the players forced networks to fill hours of empty airtime by highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustice that happened to Jacob Blake.
- We’re giving a standing ovation to the players who are keeping the conversation going and elevating it to an unprecedented level. Black Lives Matter.