Will Leitch, writing for New York Magazine, would like to talk about how unprecedented it was for NBA players to simply go on strike.
What was so powerful on Wednesday afternoon — after the Milwaukee Bucks announced that they weren’t going to play their first-round NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic to demand accountability for the shooting of Jacob Blake, which led to cancellations of the rest of the NBA and WNBA games and several MLB and MLS games — is that sports actually stopped. They stopped! World War I, a pandemic, and now police violence: It takes a lot for this to happen.
It was jarring and disorienting: Wait, there’s no game? They’re just … not playing? We had slowly adjusted to a COVID-induced absence of sports, but this felt different: This felt like a needle sliding off the record. And that it felt so reality-bending is why it was entirely necessary. It is one thing to take a knee during the national anthem as way to protest police brutality toward Black people — considering that doing so got Colin Kaepernick banned from the NFL and turned the act of bending down slightly into the most white-hot political stance imaginable, it’s fair to say that was a pretty big thing. But to say, “We have been pushed so far that we are no longer going to play this game” — something that is essentially unprecedented in the history of sports — is a jaw-dropping moment. And yet, now that it’s happened, it feels like it was inevitable. In fact, it’s a little surprising it took this long.
Sports stopping is a wake-up call. As much as I wanted sports back, here are those athletes stepping up and saying there are more important things than sports.
And that will be with us for a long time.