Wednesday was a landmark day in the sports world, as players from four major sports league’s refused to play in protest of Kenosha police shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back on Monday.
The first team to refuse to play was the Milwaukee Bucks, who issued a statement as a team hours after speaking with the Wisconsin attorney general and lieutenant governor on the phone to seek out what their next course of action can be. The Thunder and Rockets soon followed, with the Lakers and Blazers reaching the same decision not to play right as the NBA decided to officially postpone games amid a player strike — in an effort to avoid an immediate termination of the CBA.
From there, the Milwaukee Brewers followed suit by refusing to play their game with the Reds, with the Mariners-Padres game and Dodgers-Giants game likewise being called off after players chose not to play in protest. The WNBA, as they so often do, made a powerful statement with all of the players scheduled to play Wednesday night kneeling together at midcourt in shirts that spelled out Jacob Blake, likewise calling off their games after initial discussion of playing and protesting during the game
The MLS had one game play — Nashville vs. Orlando City — but at halftime of that game the rest of the league, beginning with Atlanta Unite and Inter Miami, decide they too would not play in protest and the rest of the night’s games were postponed by the league as well.
Inter Miami and Atlanta United stand together in solidarity as they boycott their match tonight. pic.twitter.com/AuJDSbNvQ1
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 27, 2020
Breaking: Most of Wednesday’s matches in MLS were postponed as players chose not to play in protest of racial injustice. pic.twitter.com/cuiasxEQh1
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 27, 2020
The Black Players for Change group in the MLS issued a statement voicing their support of the movement and the decision not to play made by players in sports all over the country.
— Black Players For Change (@BPCMLS) August 27, 2020
Outside of team sports, top tennis star Naomi Osaka announced she would not be playing in her semifinal match on Thursday in protest as well.
It is a powerful movement, and as Chris Webber so eloquently said on TNT earlier in the night, what comes next, while important, is something players can take time to figure out. What is important is how many players are standing together on this issue, across sports, and expressing the need for significant change in this country with regards to police brutality and systemic racism. The Bucks have called for Wisconsin lawmakers to return to session to vote on a bill that includes police reforms that has not been voted on for more than a month, and players from the NBA, WNBA, and elsewhere in the sports world will have more in the way of demands and calls to action from fans and the leagues themselves soon.