It was four years ago yesterday that Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. At that time, he was pretty much a lone voice and because of that act of peaceful protest, he lost his career and was vilified by many, including Trump. But the events of the past year, especially since the killing of George Floyd, have changed things. Now more and more professional athletes are not just speaking out or kneeling but taking action.
In the US, the playoff portion of professional sports league tournaments are massive events, TV ratings blockbusters. So even though the NBA has been vocal about condemning the killing of black men by police, I was still surprised to see the NBA yesterday postpone all playoff games to protest the killing of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. It now looks like the entire playoffs might be canceled.
LeBron James has been pretty vocal about condemning police brutality but this latest outrage has made him even more furious.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
The WNBA also joined in. What was even more surprising is that Major League Baseball, not particularly militant, has also suspended games out of solidarity. So havesome games in Major League Soccer and although the football season has not started, two teams decided to cancel their practices. And even tennis tournaments are affected.
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has pulled out of a major tennis tournament in New York in a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“As a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.
The ATP tournament has now been suspended for Thursday.
Organisers of the WTA Western & Southern Open in New York have said the tournament will be suspended until Friday.
“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” the statement said.
“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach,” Osaka tweeted.
“When will it ever be enough?”
Needless to say, some sports fans will be furious with the players for depriving them of their entertainment. You may recall the derisive comment made by Fox News personality Laura Ingraham, a wannabee white supremacist like Tucker Carlson, to James in June of this year to “Shut up and dribble”, as if that was the only allowable role in his life. James responded with a powerful statement about police brutality. Let’s see if she wades in again.
Clearly, more and more athletes are mad as hell. And in a country that is sports obsessed, that is not an insignificant development.