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“Enough is enough!”: A new era in American sports dawns


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LeBron James points skyward after playing the national anthem during an NBA playoff game between his Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers on Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

AP

It was an extraordinary day, producing a whole movement in real time, spanning different races and genders, dragging one sport after another, until it seemed that all the professional athletes were shouting in unison.

“STOP!”.

Enough of the killings. Enough of racial injustice. Enough of being such an imperfect union.

No one knows what the impact of those 24 hours will end up being, but one thing is for sure: From now on there are two eras in American sports: a before and after August 26, 2020.

After a new episode of police violence against a seemingly unarmed African-American, outrage increased – “good old problem,” John Lewis would say – in the stadiums and the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

They were willing to give it up.

But it was not necessary. In a laudable gesture from a team with a good chance of winning its first title in nearly half a century, Orlando did not accept the gift and gave up playing in a show of solidarity as well.

The NBA had no alternative but to postpone the three games that day in the Disney World “bubble”, where the final phase of the championship is being played as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players are clamoring to correct the racial injustices this nation has witnessed since its founding 244 years ago.

“We are in a terrible situation after so many years of this,” said Kyle Kuzman of the Los Angeles Lakers, whose meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers was also suspended. “It is depressing”.

But this did not stop there. Other sports soon joined the protest that same Wednesday. The WNBA, (the women’s NBA) also suspended its games after the players refused to go out on the court. And five games in MLS soccer and three in major league baseball were also postponed.

On Thursday there were more postponements, including the duel between the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins, whose players took to the field, did 42 seconds of silence in tribute to Jackie Robinson (the player who broke the color barrier) and returned to the dugouts. On the home plate they left a shirt that said Black Lives Matter.

For athletes of African descent, no matter their level, the humiliation of being considered second-class citizens when they remove their uniforms had reached its limit.

This did not revolve around Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed after being shot four times in the back by a police officer, nor was it directly related to other African Americans who lost their lives apparently only because of the color of their skin, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, to name recent cases, and thousands more before them.

It had more to do with Thabo Sefolosha, an NBA player who suffered a broken leg when arrested by the police. With James Blake, a now retired tennis player who was mistreated by the police after mistaking him for another person.

With all the minority athletes who realize that regardless of wealth, privilege and worship they inspire, they are not treated equally by the police, the legal system, and often not even from many fans.

“The worst thing about it is seeing that people don’t care,” said Mets outfielder Dominic Smith, who played with his team Wednesday but knelt during the anthem and was moved afterward. “That this continues to happen reveals the hatred in people’s hearts. It is detestable. Being a black person in the United States is not easy. “

It was not just black athletes who joined the cause. So did women, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, making it clear that they are not only fed up but have realized that they can do something to correct this flaw in the national character.

“Ending police brutality is more important than sport,” said Cole Tucker, a baseball player for the Pittsbuergh Pirates whose father is African American and whose mother is white.

Jeff Larentowicz, a white footballer for Atlanta United, spoke of the need for all sports to stick together.

“It feels like we are reaching a boiling point. Things have to change, “he said. “We show that we are together, that we support each other, and when you are looking for changes, if you turn around, it is not that you will not see anyone. There will be many people behind you ”.

After analyzing the possibility of the NBA championship being suspended, the players decided to return.

But it is likely that they will not sit idly by and that they will continue to push for changes.

The football season has not started yet, but several teams expressed their solidarity by suspending training sessions.

If they choose to join the campaign, they will honor the legacy of Colin Kaepernick, who was sidelined from the NFL after starting to kneel during the anthem four years ago to speak out on the very issues that are being talked about now.

Not all sports joined the protest.

The ice hockey league, in which the majority of players are white, did not interrupt its playoffs, nor was a golf tournament, another mostly white sport, suspended outside of Chicago, less than 100 miles ( 100 miles) from Kenosha, the Wisconsin town where Jacob Blake was shot in front of his children.




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