Athletes have been more prominent than ever on the social issues currently being discussed in the United States. Their most recent sign of unity was in the form of a boycott in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake was shot by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin 7 times while attempting to enter his vehicle. He survived the shooting, but is now partially paralyzed.
NBA players let their voices be heard prior to the bubble during the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Players such as Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokuonmpo, and Damian Lillard marched in protest of police brutality against the black community. This proved to be the beginning of what looks to be a long fight against racism.
The NBA made a promise to the players to help fight racism while they were continuing the season inside the bubble. For a short time during the play-in games and early first round matchups, the deeply rooted issues tied with the Black Lives Matter movement quelled, but again ramped up when Blake was shot.
The sports world flipped on its side when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted game five of their first round matchup against the Orlando Magic. The NBA followed by postponing the entire slate of Wednesday’s games.The NBA games scheduled for Thursday were postponed.
The MLB also saw three postponements games coinciding with the boycott while the WNBA cancelled all their games for the day. In the NFL, the Detroit Lions cancelled practice so they could host an event to the press in response to the Blake shooting. A few other practices around the NFL were also cancelled, most notably the Washington Football Team skipped out on an intra-squad scrimmage.
The players made it clear that they wanted change. The Bucks players used the boycott to contact the Attorney General in Wisconsin about the shooting in Kenosha. Other players from different leagues and teams took to social media, expressing their thoughts on the incidents as well as what it feels like to be discriminated against.
The NBA players met on both Wednesday night and Thursday morning in regards to the state of the bubble and whether they would continue playing. Although the Clippers and Lakers opposed the initial plan to resume play, they ended up agreeing with assurance from the league that they could continue to express their concerns with society.
The resumption of the playoffs allows the players to continue to fight the tough battle while having a platform to do so in the bubble. They showed unity and strength by agreeing to keep playing and fight racism together.
On Sunday, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray fought through tears as he delivered an emotional message after the Nuggets defeated the Utah Jazz in game six of their first round matchup. While wearing shoes that featured images of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were killed by police, Murray scored 50 points in a memorable game and delivered an inspiring message. In his postgame interview, Murray said, “Even though these people are gone, they give me life. They help me find strength in this world, to keep fighting.” Murray embodies the strength that the players have shown in their desire to end racism.
The fight that the athletes have shown given their extensive platform leads to hopefulness in the future. Let’s hope that they lead a movement that changes the United States for the better.