MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks announced that they would not be playing in their Game 5 matchup against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night in an act of solidarity with those fighting for racial justice after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI over the weekend. Moments before the game was scheduled to tip-off, the Bucks players and organization released the following statement:
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Members of the NBA and other professional sports league took notice and followed the Bucks example. The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers voted against playing the remainder of the playoffs, the WNBA has postponed games, even the MLB, a league who notoriously takes any opportunity to jam their “rich tradition” and “history of the game” down your throat, had players opting out of games yesterday and today. Hockey, on the other hand, responded pretty much exactly how you would’ve expected them to.
But, some are considering this a long-term play by the NHL to attract fans who no longer feel they can “relate” to games played by leagues taking a stand for social justice causes, particularly its most consistent competitor for TV ratings, the NBA.
“I’m just so sick of it,” commented Deborah Miller, a resident of Yonkers, NY who we caught up with at her local Whole Foods. “All they talk about now is ‘black lives this’ and ‘I can’t breathe’ that, I watch sports to escape from the realities of life, not be reminded of them. What happened to the days when news was news and sports were sports? We don’t need all this emotion, feely, crap in my opinion.” When asked when the last time she watched professional basketball was, she responded 1994.
Ron Turner, a devout Christian and resident of Kenosha, felt more strongly.
“I’m done, I’m serious. Greek Freak? More like Greek Sheikh! I will NOT turn on my TV and expose my family to this BLM, Antifa, Terrorist GARBAGE,” he said while nursing a glass of Canadian Club on the rocks at 11:00am. “Now granted, I’m not a huge NBA fan, last game I watched was back in ’85, but still, there’s no escape anymore! I can’t turn on the television or radio without being told how to feel, or about some other tragedy, or blah blah blah. I’ve had my run-ins with the law, and I’m still here. Maybe some of these people, and no, I don’t mean these people, I’m just sayin’ — you break the law less, you see the police less, you don’t resist and you comply, and you don’t end up dead.” He then made sure to show us an array of assault rifles, knives, hand grenades, and ninja stars that he keeps in his truck and garage for hunting.
2020 has been a year of reflection and learning for many, and in that reflection, if people are being honest with themselves, they’ve probably had to analyze some of the troubling ideals they’ve held, or things they’ve said, or ways they’ve acted. But another thing these leagues taught us last night is that if teams, leagues, and players are unified in their position and decide not to play, people will take notice. The distractions will be gone, and the issues brought to the forefront. Athletes are no longer just entertainers, they’re humans, and should be treated, respected, and acknowledged as such. If you don’t like that, or the message they support, or are not comfortable having these conversations, I encourage you to examine that feeling and try to understand why. These conversations will persist so long as the underlying issues do, so if you want sports to go back to the way they were, channel your energy into fighting with those athletes and against issues of injustice.
Or, you can keep not watching the NBA. There’s always hockey.