Lately I’ve been feeling like something is missing.
Usually, sports is the one thing that brings everyone together. Sports has always been a good distraction, escape and source of entertainment. At a time, when we need a distraction the most, we do not have sports as an option. World events have not only affected everyday life, but the sports world as well. After COVID-19 quickly spread across the world, leading to a pandemic, all major sports organizations halted games, practices, etc. and eventually shut down completely. Not just major leagues, minor leagues shut down as well.
For the first time in decades, there was no March Madness. The NCAA cancelled the 2020 March Madness Tournament because of fear of a major COVID-19 spread. In addition to no March Madness, because of the NBA halting its season, the 2020 playoffs and NBA Finals are still in question.
Although athletes are not performing on the court because of the pandemic, due to the current social revolution, they’ve still found a way to use their power and influence for good.
Recent world events have shown that athletes refuse to just “shut up and dribble.”
Athletes from the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, etc. have spoken out and taken action after the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, which sparked protests across the country and reignited the BlackLivesMatter Movement. The recent death of George Floyd, by Minneapolis police, shined a light on the social injustices and systemic racism in America.
Former NBA player and friend of George Floyd, Stephen Jackson has been most vocal about Floyd’s death, joining a list of public figures who have recently become social activists.
Shortly after George Floyd’s death, Stephen Jackson spoke at a rally in Minneapolis, defending Floyd’s death and delivering a powerful message.
Quotes from his speech :
He was murdered in broad daylight for the world to see... So where do we go from here? We're going to the front line and anything you see, so be it, so be it, so be it. I want you to see it because this is real pain.
How can you tell people to stop doing what they're doing when all you have to do is have common sense? Common sense ain't common. Common sense is not common. I walk right here and smack this man right behind his camera and common sense will say we all saw him slap him.
Am I right? Everybody in here will say we saw him slap him. Everybody saw it. So everybody didn't see that this man killed my brother? Common sense ain't common. It's a new day.
Since Floyd’s death, Stephen Jackson, along with other athletes, have not only been vocal, but they've also begun to create measures and institutions to demand change and to advocate for racial equality.
One of the world’s greatest athletes, Lebron James, has been extremely vocal and passionate about the death of George Floyd and social injustice.
Lebron has not only spoken out publicly supporting the BLM, he’s also banded with other major athletes and entertainers to launch a new organization called “More Than A Vote.”
The new organization called “More Than a Vote” is geared towards protecting the voting rights of African Americans.
Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner, recently announced the NBA season is to return on July 30th in Orlando, if all goes as planned.
This plan initially came to be after the United States experienced a decrease in deaths and new cases reported related to COVID-19. The NBA is not the only sport set to start soon. The NFL and MLB have also begun to reopen their practice facilities and college athletes are going to camp.
Although seasons are to start back up soon, due to COVID-19 updates within the past weeks, athletes are being forced to make a tough decision.
Numerous athletes have publicly and privately expressed their apprehension to play this season, due to health and safety concerns, and the fear of distracting from the ongoing social movement.
ESPN’S Bobby Marks, a former NBA executive, has estimated that the NBA will lose $2 billion if the season does not restart, with players losing $1.2 billion in salary.
Causing many to pose questions like:
Why are these seasons really restarting?
Is it all about money?
What benefit is there in restarting a season right now, if not for capitalist purposes?
Sounds similar to reopening the economy before it was ready.
Athletes across every sport are currently faced with the decision of whether to play or not because of the current climate of society.
Brooklyn Nets PG Kyrie Irving, has been most vocal, that the NBA season restarting now will be a distraction from the fight for social justice.
Irving made the decision not to play in order to recover from a shoulder injury, but he has remained adamant about the risks of restarting the season during a social revolution. It has been widely reported that Irving led a discussion with more than 100 players, shortly after the protests began to discuss the risks of playing again too soon.
His Nets teammate Garrett Temple has been equally vocal, appearing on various platforms to discuss his stance on focusing the fight on social justice instead of restarting the season.
The WNBA and their players have also taken a stand and expressed their support for the movement.
5 players from these WNBA teams: Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun have announced their intention to not play, so far.
LaToya Sanders and Natasha Cloud of the 2019 WNBA champion Washington Mystics made the tough decision to opt out of the season.
Natasha Cloud's Instagram Post
I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball.
I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can't matter.
Athletes who have made the decision to play in their upcoming seasons have still found a way to fight for social justice and equality.
Both the NBA and WNBA plan to showcase support for the movement with BLM basketball courts. The NBA will also allow their athletes to write social justice messages on their jerseys.
Rudy Golbert “Equality”
CJ McCollum “Education Reform”
Jusif Nurkic “Equality”
Matisse Thybule “Vote”
Meyers Leonard “Equality”
Ivica Zubac “Enough”
Moe Wagner “Vote”
With different aspects of the world starting to resemble normalcy, the fear is that people will lose sight of or neglect the ongoing fight for social justice and equality.
BlackLivesMatter is not a trend, a way to brand or a tool for advertisement.