Following the lead of the Milwaukee Bucks, the Brewers and Reds decided not to play Wednesday night in protest after racist, violent instances in Kenosha, WI. On Sunday, Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, paralyzing him. Tuesday night, Kyle Rittenhouse murdered two protestors and injured a third. Rittenhouse has since been arrested and charged with first degree intentional homicide, but Kenosha police allowed him to walk away.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team strike yesterday, and it wasn’t long until all of the NBA’s scheduled games were postponed. The WNBA postponed all of its games as well after the Washington Mystics announced they would be striking.
The Brewers’ decision to go along with the strike is a watershed moment for MLB. The league’s showing of solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement has been criticized for being performative, but a walkout is more than pandering. Effective protest requires more than words; it requires disruption.
The decision in Milwaukee carried ripple effects, but it didn’t extend to every team. The Mariners and Padres walked out. Jason Heyward chose to sit out of Thursday’s game, but his teammates played on without him. Heyward encouraged them to play, but their decision not to walk out with him undermined his protest. Matt Kemp also walked out, but the Rockies and Diamondbacks played on.
Several people brought up words from Jane McManus that were later echoed by Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle. “Sports are the result of a healthy and functioning society,” McManus said back in June. She was referring to the federal governments utter failure to respond to COVID-19, but they’re true in this context as well.
Sports are the result of a healthy and functioning society. We just aren’t there right now, as much as some want to ignore that reality. https://t.co/Y1HWjhZwfI— Jane McManus (@janesports) June 20, 2020
Any country with a police force this corrupt, racist, and broken doesn’t deserve to look away. The USA doesn’t deserve to be distracted by sports.