In sports, we do whatever it takes

In+sports%2C+we+do+whatever+it+takes

Lojuanda Weary/The Lion's Roar

On Aug. 23, a young man by the name of Jacob Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha, Wis. police officer, Rusten Sheskey. This shooting sent professional athletes on a strike, halting Game 5 of the NBA Series for three days, shocking fans and the rest of the world.

Blake was walking away from the police towards his vehicle after they had gotten into an altercation outside. That is when the officer opened fire, leaving Blake now paralyzed and currently in the hospital.

Once the incident surfaced the media, it only triggered communities even further after a summer of fighting for the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Although, this time, athletes took an even more serious approach instead of just “bringing awareness” to the incident.

On Aug. 26, both the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic remained in their locker rooms during warmups. There had been talks of the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics possibly boycotting Game 1 of the East Semifinals the night before the Bucks’ decision, according to Marc J. Spears, a writer for ESPN.

After the dust settled, players everywhere wanted to pay tribute to Jacob Blake by refusing to play in a game or match in order to stir up change for justice.

Many fans were outraged and did not believe sports should be brought into the situation, but as a young African-American woman in today’s society, I strongly believe just the opposite.

 

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I think the fans that made those comments are not truly understanding the big picture as to why athletes everywhere should get involved in such a sensitive case. The players made a very courageous and smart choice by not playing.

Sometimes, it seems as though the world is only paying attention to issues and people when there is fame or money involved. As we all know, sports are the key to America’s heart and always have been since the beginning of time.

When they ended all seasons due to the pandemic, citizens everywhere were highly distraught and anticipating the comeback. But, that also made it seem as if the death of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and now the shooting of Jacob Blake this summer were all irrelevant, so in order to call attention to these injustices and get action from those fans who can make change, the athletes decided to stop playing.

It is almost similar to the saying “what does not affect you, does not matter to you,” and the players have made this issue now matter a little more to those people who were sports fans but did not have any knowledge of what Black Lives Matter was fighting for, or may not have necessarily cared initially. Now that it has taken away a moment of something that was important to them, they might pay attention.

There were also many commentators saying how not playing one game did not really bring the ‘change’ that activists were hoping for, but in my opinion, it brought enough.

Vox.com announced that the strike came to an end with the league receiving a few concessions, which included multiple basketball arenas being turned into voting locations and the formation of a league-wide social justice coalition. 

I also think during this time that many teams and athletes have spoken out and shown how they truly feel about these injustices, which is important for their peace of mind.

The most prominent demonstration for me was a WNBA game where the Washington Mystics wore shirts that spelled out Jacob Blake’s name. Each player had a letter on the front and seven bullet holes in the back, reminding everyone how Blake was shot, during their game against Atlanta Dream. 

All of the lengths that we as supporters and fighters of this movement are going through to push this agenda forward are important, and I hope that players can hold out even longer next time if that is what it takes. 

 

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