Although the Los Angeles Lakers won in what was a very bizarre championship run, it felt very anticlimactic. Why? Maybe it was the fact that the teams played in a bubble with no fans. It also could have been because that the bubble was located in the virus epicenter of the country yet they seemed to be in their own separate world, safe from the outside dangers. In reality, it was because of how insignificant an NBA championship felt in the developing chaos around the world. A champion may have emerged from the bubble, but it was not the Lakers.
The Issue of Racial Injustice
As we are in the offseason during the fall and winter for the very first time, it is important to take a step back and think about the circumstances. When the season first got suspended in March, there was a sense of chaos. An unknown virus, and an unknown future. 7 months later, and we find ourselves in 2 pandemics. The world hit pause and we discovered an issue that had been there for far too long – racial injustice.
It seemed like with every push against the problem, a new name was being memorialized and it felt like we were taking a step back. What was the “Black Lives Matter” on the side of the court really doing? What were the messages on the backs of jerseys really accomplishing? We didn’t really feel uncomfortable until the games got taken away.
On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake was shot several times by police in front of his children, paralyzing him from the waist down. This incident sparked another outrage, especially because Blake was only at the scene trying to calm down two women who were fighting. Although he lived, his life was changed drastically.
3 days later…
On August 26, 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks were set to eliminate the Orlando Magic. However, by game time, there was no sign of either team on the floor. Reports began coming in about a boycott, and the Bucks were the ones who initiated it. Following the Bucks, six other NBA teams decided not to play their games on that day either. However, the NBA was not the only professional sports league to hit pause. The WNBA, MLB, and the MLS were among the few that decided to stand with Jacob Blake.
Mixing Sports with “Politics”
For some reason, there is a controversy about athletes speaking up on this topic. The argument that you shouldn’t mix sports with politics is weak, and this is why. The police brutality and violence against the Black community is not an issue of politics, it is an issue of human rights.
I’m a bit confused, so because we play in the NBA and have a salary we can’t talk politics? But how you earn your salary as a doctor, janitor, lawyer, teacher, plumber, store manager, cashier, entrepreneur, server etc. automatically makes you more qualified to discuss politics?
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) October 20, 2020
In addition to this, athletes have some of the biggest platforms in the world. They can be the influence we need, so now let’s turn our attention back to the Milwaukee Bucks so we can see how.
The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their First Round series vs. the Orlando Magic this afternoon.
The team provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ul5rMlitlS
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The boycott wasn’t only to make people uncomfortable- the Bucks used this moment to call out the Wisconsin State Legislature to take the next step in combating police brutality and everything that people have been protesting for the last several months during the year.
“Between Oct. 20 through Nov. 1, Fiserv Forum will be open to in-person early voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.”Milwaukee Bucks/Twitter
Making sure to provide early voting arenas for the population in Milwaukee was a good step forward, and as we await the results of the election today, we will see the impact that pushing for change can make.
The Bucks were not the only team that provided easy voting access to its citizens. Following the stoppage of play, the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver released a statement that outlined what their next steps would be:
Although we still have a long way to go, we now know the importance of people using their platforms to help the general population achieve change. Every vote and every person matters, and we all need to work together, seriously. If you are not angry, you are not aware.
There are so many ways that athletes can use their platform to provoke change, and the Milwaukee Bucks have proven that. They sparked a series of decisions that allowed for this election to have as many votes as possible. As we wait for the results, we must also continue to find other ways to stay active in making the world a better place, a few steps at a time. As much as we might not like to admit it, humanity needs to come together. We are always better together than divided.