August 31, 2020

NBA Boycott

“NBA players who boycotted games as part of a protest against racial injustice have agreed to resume the playoffs… in a deal that includes increased access to voting in the U.S. presidential election… The decision ends a three-day halt to the action as part of a player-led protest that was sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left supports the NBA.

“Just because its Black players are professional athletes, that doesn’t protect them from police violence and harassment. For instance, the Houston Rockets guard Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken by New York City police during an encounter outside a nightclub in 2015. Sefolosha later won a $4 million settlement from the city…

“In 2018, Milwaukee police confronted the [Milwaukee] Bucks’ small forward Sterling Brown in a Walgreens parking lot. Officers used a Taser on him, handcuffed him, shoved him to the ground, and pulled a gun on him. Brown filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit accusing Milwaukee’s police department of unlawful arrest and excessive force.”
Jemele Hill, The Atlantic

Dated but relevant: Brown writes about the 2018 incident that “once the video came out, people started to speak up in support of me. With the video it was impossible to deny that the police were in the wrong. But how many times does something like this happen when there isn’t a camera recording? How many times does it happen to someone who isn’t an NBA player and who doesn’t have the platform I have to make people stop and listen?…

“This happens every single day to Black people all across America. Even in the short time while I was in custody, another Black man came in, his eye bleeding, telling everyone he was in there for a traffic stop… The cop who confronted me kept saying, ‘This is all on camera,’ like he was warning me. That tells you how flawed the system is.”
Sterling Brown, The Players’ Tribune

“Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri… was just vindicated by video last week regarding an incident from the 2019 NBA Finals in which an Alameda County cop working the championship’s final game blocked Ujiri from celebrating on the floor with his players, shoved him with two hands, and told him to ‘back the fuck up.’ The Alameda County police department then publicly claimed that Ujiri punched the cop (he didn’t) as the officer involved tried to sue Ujiri and collected $150,000 in disability from the supposed trauma caused by the incident…

“Anyone who claims to be surprised by the strike has not been paying attention to how closely the issue of police brutality has actively affected Black NBA players and executives.”
Nick Martin, New Republic

By refusing to play, the Bucks said they are no longer willing to be America’s escape, celebrated when they’re entertaining us but treated like trash when they take off their uniforms. They will not be put off by the hollow promises of change each time another Black man or woman is killed or abused by police, and you can bet their courage will embolden others.”
Nancy Armour, USA Today

“This isn’t just some token protest… The Milwaukee Bucks got on a conference call [on Wednesday] with the attorney general of Wisconsin and the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, according to reporting by ESPN. That is a flexing of power. That’s actually making a direct connection with people who make decisions about police security, about the way you say things publicly, about how you message to the public.”
Joel Anderson, Stefan Fatsis, and Josh Levin, Slate

The NBA walkout is already a success. NBA owners, hugely wealthy and influential people, are tweeting their support for police reform. Even the family of [Trump's] Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the owners of the Orlando Magic, put out a statement ‘condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color.’ The day after the walkout, the Houston Rockets announced that their arena would be used as an early in-person voting center. Other venues in other cities had already taken the same step, but the timing of the Houston news is impossible to ignore; players were urging their teams’ owners to take concrete action in response to their grievances.”
Dylan Scott, Vox

From the Right

The right is critical of the NBA.

The right is critical of the NBA.

“Sports are supposed to be my happy place, a distraction from the real world. I’m a grown-up who knows very well what is going on in the world. I don’t need a bunch of 25-year-old millionaires taking a knee on their piles of cash to introduce awareness or poignancy into my life.”
Stephen Kruiser, PJ Media

“Media is already comparing Lebron to Muhammad Ali. Ali, you recall, was facing jail time for his act of protest. Lebron faces no negative consequences whatsoever. This matters. People turn on athletes when they refuse to play – sometimes vociferously, but more often by just turning to other things. And then the corporate sponsors and the people with television contracts to honor start to get antsy…

“But it’s the fans who miss it the most. [Wednesday], right after the Milwaukee Bucks announcement that they would not play their playoff game, an older man named Larry called into DC sports radio’s The Fan. ‘I thought I could get away from politics by listening to sports … but now … it’s no escaping politics. I’m a Democrat but they’re gonna make me become a Republican if they keep doing this stuff.’”
Ben Domenech, The Federalist

“If players, in the midst of a pandemic slowdown already costing professional sports billions of dollars, were willing to shut down their industry in this instance, how frequently will they feel compelled, or even pressured, to do the same in the future? Fans who were already watching less sports may react negatively to being lectured by wealthy athletes who regularly walk off the job…

“It’s hard to ignore the politics, especially the increasing habit of NBA players and coaches of criticizing the U.S. and its citizens, even while many gave a pass to China—one of the league’s biggest new markets—during its crackdown on Hong Kong dissidents… Sports leagues and teams never had to deal with political partisanship as a filter for attracting fans. Up until recently, sports united people of different political persuasions. Now, we have whole leagues embracing questionable political messages designed to offend and alienate large segments of the target audience. The economics of sports may never be the same.”
Steven Malanga, City Journal

“It's possible the officers were in the wrong — and if that's the case, then they should absolutely be held accountable for it. However, if an investigation shows that Blake was reaching for a weapon, then defending Blake would be downright wrong. The NBA players don't know what happened yet — just like the rest of the public

“Instead of waiting for evidence, the players have jumped to the conclusion that the police officers' actions were racist, even though a person of any race disobeying police orders and potentially reaching for a weapon may have met the same fate.”
Tom Joyce, Washington Examiner

“There already is a model for achieving policy changes as a celebrity with President Trump in the White House, but athletes don’t want to take that route. Kim Kardashian West helped push the president toward prison reform, meeting frequently at the White House to discuss the issue. She kicked off the issue by pushing Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson. In one 90-day span, she managed to secure commuted sentences for 17 inmates. So why would the NBA not reach a hand across the aisle to work on police reform?…  

“The reason is politics… Athletes, like congressional Democrats, don’t care about police reform if they perceive that its enactment will help Trump… If electing Democrats could cure the maladies of racial tensions, then Democrat-run cities such as Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, wouldn't be burning. If athletes really cared about reform, they would start there before going up to the federal level. But even at the federal level, it’s not solutions they’re after, just Democratic victories in November.”
Zachary Faria, Washington Examiner

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