The sports world paused abruptly on Wednesday afternoon, as the Milwaukee Bucks opted against leaving their locker room for their NBA Playoff game that was scheduled against the Orlando Magic. Their decision came in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin earlier this week, a town just a few dozen miles from where the Bucks call home when not participating in the Florida NBA bubble.
In the days following the shooting, protests have been near constant in Kenosha, and last night two lives were lost when an armed militia member opened fire mid-protest. The gunman, who is white, was captured on footage mingling and interacting with police during the protest while carrying an assault rifle, and managed to leave the scene of the shooting without being apprehended, let alone assaulted. That stands in stark contrast to the way Blake, who is Black, was treated by the same police force just days before, when he was shot seven times in the back in front of his children during a domestic dispute.
The NBA players have taken this opportunity to protest the stark contrast in how individuals continue to be treated along racial lines, with the rest of the NBA schedule officially postponed for the rest of the evening, too. The spotlight quickly turned to the Milwaukee Brewers, who unlike the Bucks were actually scheduled to ply their trade in the city of Milwaukee, and whose players had the same opportunity to speak out and draw eyes to the awful events that have taken place in their backyard.
The Brewers took that opportunity, as Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal relayed, with their opponent for the evening - the Cincinnati Reds - aside them in solidarity to not play this evening.
The Reds have agreed not to play as well. No forfeit situation. Both teams have agreed to sit out tonight’s game. https://t.co/BZJAg8GujJ— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) August 26, 2020
ESPN’s Jeff Passan later relayed that more teams are considering following suit.
Following the cancellation of the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds game tonight, more teams are discussing the possibility of not playing, sources tell ESPN. Among those currently discussing it: the Seattle Mariners, who have the most Black players of any team in MLB.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 26, 2020
It’s a remarkable stand the players are taking in both leagues, one that I can only help draws more attention to the inherent, age-old problems in the way our society polices itself.
This is obviously a developing situation, one that will have repercussions both on, and off, the field for quite some time.