Silence can also be heard. Last Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks walked off court before their playoff match, triggering all other Wednesday, Thursday and Friday matches to be postponed by the NBA.
This, after yet another video depicting police brutality against a black man emerged in the United States. (See – Jacob Blake: What we know about Wisconsin police shooting, BBC)
The NBA protests were also followed by WNBA, MLB, MLS, WTA, eSports and NHL player boycotts, which forced some matches to be postponed.
Eventually all matches got rescheduled and some were played again, including the WTA Southern & Western Open semifinal that Naomi Osaka (JAP) had forfeited. She went on to win the semi and then forfeited the final to Victoria Azarenka (BLR), after an injury.
In basketball it was not so easy for players to go back to play, and apparently it involved the participation of All-time great Michael Jordan and former President Barack Obama (InsideHook) for them to go back to play. Players asked Jacob Blake’s father if they should proceed with the season (CNN), five minutes after the Milwaukee Bucks players walked off the court.
The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens took it further to just raising awareness and included a seven-point statement on Twitter, which includes calling for: Arresting and charging those responsible for Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake’s shootings, ending qualified immunity (See Lawfareblog), prohibiting racial profiling, demanding prison sentencing reform, encouraging people to vote, and encouraging people to be compliant when engaging police, among others.
Exact demands and proposals might be exactly what is needed, beyond “just” protesting. Athletes are taking advantage of their platform and specific demands is a smart strategy.
It would appear as if within the sports industry there was an obvious consensus but an example contrary to that was that MLS’ Real Salt Lake’s team owner said felt “betrayed” (The Athletic) after his players protested. After backlash, he recognized he was wrong and will begin a process to sell the team (MLS).
Dissension is important in civil society, but a sine qua non is respecting the rights of others to show empathy to their cause, particularly if it entails protecting basic human rights.