Covid-19 Op-Ed Sports

Published on

By Tyrese Henryel – Co Sports Editor

The National Basketball Association has returned after a 4-month stoppage due to players testing positive for COVID-19 and the sports world is headed back to regularly scheduled programming. A significant Issue that seems to have been troubling the players and its fans that represent the communities, is the prevalence of police brutality and injustice for the African American community in this country. The recent killing of George Floyd in May of this year is only one of many instances that has sparked controversy across America. Communities across the world have voiced their frustrations with the Police brutality in America through peaceful protest and rallies endorsing the Black Live Matter movement. The general public are not the only people in this fight for equality and justice. Superstar names in the basketball world specifically have voiced their frustrations and have been using their platforms to advertise and support the Black Lives Matter movement. The names on this list include: Lebron James, Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Kyrie Irving, Karl Anthony Towns, and a host of other big-name players in the NBA. In addition to these stars using social media to express their opinions about injustice and police  brutality, they have been heavily involved with the minority communities during the league shutdown and have been leading protests alongside the fans, political leaders and local activists. This beneficial act only works to push the agenda further and brings attention to the social issues that have affected a demographic that the majority of the NBA identify with.  

Shortly before the NBA restart, the league did their part in trying to spread the awareness of social injustice to the fans. They started by imprinting the Black Lives Matter statement on the NBA court further showcasing the cause and supporting the players positions on the subject. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated his opinion on the BLM Movement and the NBA’s support for it despite President Trump’s dismay for it. 

Silver states in an Interview with PBS Newshour, “In terms of Black Lives Matter we support, we support it as a national movement. Depending on the estimates, roughly 25 million people have protested for social justice in the country,” He continues, “The players have – are participating in a peaceful protest. And we have also supported that.” With the commissioner’s help the NBA is able to use its platform as a messenger to fans that are unaware of the social issues that plague this country.

A method that the NBA has used to allow the players to have their voice heard is  allowing players to wear a short slogan pertaining to social injustice on the back of their jerseys. Some of the messages that were allowed to be worn include, Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I can’t Breathe, How many more and so on and so forth. Notable names that have chosen to wear these statements include, James Harden (HOU), Kawhi Leonard (LAC), Paul George (LAC), Ben Simmons (PHI), and a host of other stars. Once again by pushing the agenda forward it only works to benefit and shed light on the Police brutality and other injustices African Americans have faced in this country.  

The NBA voiced their solidarity for the betterment of the community and has done wonders by endorsing the movement during their restart. This has translated into popular culture and we see television adapting to the process of change. We see Nike running advertisements endorsing social justice and equality, Live game commentators taking moments to mention the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and countless others that have been victimized by injustice. The NBA has fostered a new era of activism and it is starting to bleed into the diaspora of sports. Athletes across the world are starting to voice their concern on their particular platform where they perform. The power that lies within this method is the power of exposure, these issues are put on a pedestal for the world to see. It can be hard for people to ignore issues that are blatantly presented on television consistently and are usually undermined. This can be a positive step forward to inciting change in the world and black athletes using their public notoriety as a tool to push the agenda only accelerates the process further for change.