Image courtesy of Sport Industry Group
By Robbie Cruz
The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 on Wednesday, August 26, in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The boycott occurred following the police shooting of Wisconson-native, Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020.
Following the boycott, the Bucks released a statement saying, “Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
The Bucks also added that their main focus is on creating a change with police accountability.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform,” the Bucks stated. “We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
The National Basketball Association returned on July 22, right after the death of George Floyd, and several NBA players contemplated not coming back as a protest against police violence. Following the news, the NBA allowed players to wear political messages on the back of their jerseys. Some of the messages used included, “Black Lives Matter,” “Equality,” “Education Reform,” “Peace,” “Freedom,” and “How Many More.”
Following the Bucks boycott, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Portland Trailblazers agreed to boycott their games as well. The night of the boycott, NBA players held a private meeting discussing whether or not they should come back and finish the season. After the discussion, 20 of the 22 NBA teams voted to finish the season out. The two teams that voted not to finish the season out were shockingly two of the best teams, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
After the Bucks became the first team to boycott a game due to the shooting, other sports agreed to let teams boycott. In Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, and Philadelphia Phillies all agreed to boycott their respective games.
The day after the Bucks boycotted, the National Hockey League agreed to postpone its games on Thursday and Friday night, which left some NHL players displeased with the league’s delayed response to the shooting. Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba criticized the NHL following the other league’s boycotts.
“The NHL is always last to the party on these topics,” Dumba said.
San Jose Sharks left-winger Evander Kane also expressed his frustration with the NHL, tweeting, “It’s incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgment from the NHL, just straight-up insulting.”
The NHL has not announced any major changes to the league as a result of the shooting.
Sophomore Business major John Anthony Buono said that he agrees with the political messages on the backs of jerseys, but as an NBA fan, he was disappointed when he heard that the players might sit the season out.
“It’s good to have a voice and the ability to speak out on issues because everyone has a right to their opinion. Using the resources that they have on their jerseys and court is super effective, and important with change. However, I don’t think that sitting out is the right way to send the message. Sports should give players organizations and charities to make donations to,” Buono told the Tower.
Buono also has the Clippers as his favorites to win the championship, but for now, it seems as though most sports are looking to finish out their season and make political statements once things are done.