In my opinion, the Milwaukee Bucks and the other teams scheduled to play yesterday absolutely did the right thing by postponing the games as they and the nation wait for the arrest of Rusten Sheskey, the Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back at point blank range in front of his three children.
The Bucks made the following statement after the NBA’s prompt decision to focus on the most important issues of the day:
There is tremendous integrity in not only what the Bucks did by placing their focus on Kenosha—-the statement they made as a team is compelling.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement. 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. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on November 3.”
Other pro sports teams followed suit yesterday by either postponing their games or their practices in order to cope with and focus on the horrific events in Kenosha. According to ESPN, “games between the Cincinnati Reds and Brewers in Milwaukee, Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco were called off hours before they were set to begin.” And the Detroit Lions of the NFL postponed their practice to engage in team discussions. They too offered a public statement:
The Lions protest that: “The World Can’t Go On” and “We Won’t Be Silent.”
But once the arrest of officer Sheskey (and his fellow officers, to the extent that they are responsible) is a fait accompli, there are a number of very positive and urgent reasons why it would be so meaningful for the games to go on.
1—-Keeping the pro athletes and their coaches in the spotlight during this time is important. If they all leave the bubble, as is the case with the NBA, and they disperse, their solidarity will not be nearly as visible at a time when it is comforting for so many millions of Americans to see.
2—-College and pro sports in America, while not perfect by any means (what is?), serve as a model of how Americans from all different backgrounds and ethnicities can unite to form a common respect and cooperative bond. This is a model that is so especially necessary for all of America to see, because it is a model of brotherhood and sisterhood.
3—-So many of today’s athletes are role models when it comes to championing for justice and civil rights. They “talk the talk” so convincingly, because they walk the walk. They are globetrotters and in many cases are paragons of the American Dream. Thus, they have wider perspective of the country and the world and what it takes to build a dream from scratch—-and most importantly—-they know what it takes to join arms with their brothers and sisters to work toward a common spirt and common goal.
4—-The games are giving so many Americans and people a round the world a sense of hope during one of the most depressing and flat-out scary times in recent history.
The changes that America, as country and as a democracy, needs to make are now in plain sight, perhaps more than ever before.
As we all know, real change requires time, cooperation, respect and daily diligence.
Thus, I implore the American athletes to stick together as teams. Please, don’t abandon the games.
Stay—-and keep showing us what democracy and spirited brotherhood look like.
That optic is one the best possible juxtapositions to the optics that have been coming out of Kenosha.