• Fri. Apr 23rd, 2021

The Closer Column – Sports and Protests

There was outrage, disappointment and disgust from what has transpired over the past couple of months in this country with social injustice coming to the forefront once again. With all that being said, this wasn’t a surprise. This has been happening for centuries as African Americans have been treated unfairly in the criminal justice system. On May 25, George Floyd had his neck pressed down on pavement for 8 minutes and 46 seconds by police officer Derek Chauvin. Sparks of anger flooded the country. The protests were no longer peaceful. Riots and looting took over the streets. In the middle of a national pandemic due to COVID-19, the United States was coming apart at the seams. 

The sports world came to a screeching halt on March 12 due to the virus. No sports for over three months was dreadful. It felt like every day was missing something to look forward to.  Fast forward to Aug. 26, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic opted not to play due to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Basketball games around the league in the midst of the playoffs were boycotting. The players were planning to boycott the entire playoffs unless some actual change was coming from the owners. 

They looked to people who had power to actually do something to help those that don’t. It is what former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been protesting for years. The NBA Players Association met with the owners and agreed upon a “return to play” with the agreement that owners were going to make a stride for social equality. 

MLB games and NFL practices would go on to be postponed as well. One night later, the Miami Marlins were scheduled to play a game in New York against the Mets. The national anthem played and the players and coaches stood for a 42 second moment of silence before exiting the field after placing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt on home plate. How many times are sports stars going to need to shed a light on an social injustice issue for there to be real change?

NBA players have a history of being more outspoken than any other athletes. They are able to use their platform to raise awareness for issues in society. While the players are in the bubble down in Florida, they are allowed to wear certain names or phrases on the back of their jerseys. 

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and many more have shed light on a very sensitive topic that needs to be addressed. Cries from people around the United States have pleaded for the arrest of the police officers that killed Breonna Taylor while she was sleeping.  

These issues have caused so much pain for everyone during an already trying time for this country. Comedian Chris Rock hit the nail on the head when he said, “Here’s the thing. I know being a cop is hard… I know it is, okay? But some jobs can’t have bad apples.” Not all cops are bad, but it only takes a few to fit the mold of those who should not have the power that they hold. 

The frustration lies with how long this conversation has been going on. Colin Kaepernick peacefully protested over four years ago. He tried to raise awareness for the same issues that this country was forced to recognize over the summer. These issues are going to be work in progress regardless of what happens over the next couple of months. Social injustice isn’t a quick fix. It is important to take a step in the right direction.

Nicholas Mundy
namundy@vwu.edu