protests, boycotts and pro athletes

if you know me, you know that i love watching NBA basketball– especially the playoffs. these past two nights there have been no playoff games. the nba players association along with the league cancelled the games in light of the latest high profile video of police abuse of power–the shooting of jacob blake in wisconsin.

the milwaukee bucks– the team with the best record this year– boycotted their wednesday game. because of this, there was a domino effect: all nba games were postponed; some MLB teams, including my mariners, sat out of games; the wnba games postponed; soccer matches cancelled; pro tennis matches called off.

sitting out games in protest in professional sports has never been seen like this before in history.

i heard on npr yesterday morning that the only time boycotts by professional teams for social justice happened only once: by soccer teams in south africa to protest against apartheid. we are now seeing an historic, global moment.

i am proud of the NBA in particular but of all teams and pro athletes that stood in solidarity for justice in the world. in essence, the message is: this is NOT business as usual; we have to pause to acknowledge these injustices; we must act with resolve for those who experience abuse. standing with those who suffer is so important that being inconvenienced is a minor consequence. indeed, black lives matter.

these actions get us talking about the kind of people and nation we want to be.

i truly believe in the power of non cooperation as a way to disrupt everyday life and shine the light on societal wrongs. it is a unique way to love our neighbor. athletes have a unique stage to live this out. if the boycotts/protests are purely symbolic, that is fine. it is a step. but if they are connected to a larger strategy, the boycotts/protests can be very effective. it would be great if the hearts of those who have power/money and can act in solidarity with the good.

didn’t the pro football team in washington dc choose to change their racist mascot because of economic pressure from corporate sponsors? indeed, money can talk for the good too. (although it is rare to see at this level)

we all have different roles, gifts and talents in the struggle for goodness and right.

who could be next to boycott? actors? tv hosts? musicians?

i pray that our conversations move us steps closer to be the people and world that God wills: a world of love, peace, justice and real care for one another and God’s gift of creation.

1 Comment

  1. Well said, Fr. Art.

    Liked by 1 person

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