Historic Sports Boycotts Turn America’s Attention to Racial Injustice
In an unprecedented move last night, four major sports leagues joined in boycotting sports while demanding justice for Jacob Blake. What began as a protest by the Milwaukee Bucks set in motion a nation-wide boycott by the NFL, NBA, WNBA, and MLB.
Today the NHL joined in the movement, with its Diversity Alliance voting in support of postponing their own playoffs.
Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police officers on Sunday after attempting to break up a fight. He was returning to his car after the arrival of the police, expecting them to take control of the situation. Instead, the officers turned their attention to Blake, nearly killing him in front of his three children.
Yesterday the Lions were the first NFL team to respond, canceling practice in protest.
Doug Pederson took to the airwaves shortly thereafter in support of Detroit, stating the following:
“You gotta put football aside. This is human life and this is about all of our lives. These guys, they have a message, they have a platform, they have something that needs to be said and so I’m here obviously to listen, to listen to their ideas and their comments and the things that they’re dealing with every single day.”
Safety Jalen Mills reported that Pederson allowed players to take turns speaking last night. “I commend Doug for that.”
Fellow Safety Rodney McLeod, taking the social justice reigns from former teammate Malcolm Jenkins, announced the team will hold a meeting tomorrow to plan their course of action in continuing their protest.
“We’ll all sit down and talk about a lot of issues that we want to address moving forward, surrounding the country, how we want to show our support this season,” he said. “And so a lot of those topics will be addressed.”
As teams prepare to take action, Cornerback Darius Slay tweeted:
2020 has brought with it enormous adversity to humanity, but the increasing public awareness of police brutality and racial violence in America is not a product of the year. The United States was built on a foundation of black and brown labor, reimbursing its most marginalized demographics with a violence white folks have never experienced and will never understand. This year, hard as it has been, is an overdue awakening by the general public to violence that has plagued America’s non-white demographic.
59 years ago, Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics boycotted basketball in the name of Civil Rights activism. To those who believed the Obama Administration ushered in a post-racial America, this week’s boycotts, based on the same premise as those over half a century ago, are a reminder of how far we still have to go.
The coming days and weeks could set the course for a generation of athletes, sports fans, and Americans.
More than McGwire and Sosa’s home run race or the dominant arrival of Naomi Osaka, these protests demanding justice for Jacob Blake demand our attention, our thought, and our support.
We are all witnessing history.
Featured Image: CNN