Everything is up in the air at the moment, and the NFL is no exception.
I started this blog on Wednesday, and the above was the opening line. The rest can wait for another day.
I was already aware of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and had the sadly all too familiar sorrow at hearing of another such failure in policing, and anger that despite all the recent discussions that seven shots were fired into the Blake’s back.
What took place overnight was the powerful actions of the Milwaukee Bucks boycotting their playoff game and the rest of the NBA teams in the bubble, as well as the league itself standing in solidarity with them. There were various other teams and individuals from different sports including the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team who also cancelled games yesterday.
There were many NFL players supporting the actions of the Bucks to sit out their game, the Detroit Lions cancelled practice and both the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears put out statements regarding the shooting.
We have now also had a seventeen-year-old boy shoot dead two Black Lives Matter protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin who were part of a demonstration about the shooting of Blake,
This is a sports blog and I try to find a balance between writing about the NFL and the other things that can and should intrude. There has been much talk of whether it is worth playing sport in the middle of a pandemic, but also serious discussions about whether NBA players should be going to the bubble to finish the season at all.
Or if their place was in their communities advocating for change.
I’m not sure there is a right answer here. In fact, I fully support all those who have opted out of sports to work in their communities or as a precaution because of Covid-19. We should also support those who thought their loudest platform was provided by what they do.
What the Bucs players, and all those other NBA teams, coaches, and league officials who demonstrated solidarity with them, was leverage the platform they had already built as best they could. Escalating their ongoing protests as another shooting took place despite all the fine words of the last few months.
The Bucks raised their voices in solidarity with those already protesting, and the wider world including those from other sports joined as well.
But it should not be up to sports people to force accountability.
The issues of structural racism, of police brutality, cannot be fixed overnight. It is going to take long hard work to rebuild institutions, to educate, to transform a situation that is the result of hundreds of years of disadvantage.
The NBA, perhaps more than any other American sport, has empowered its athletes to take on such issues and has a much healthier relationship between its owners and players than a lot of leagues, and certainly better than the NFL.
This is an NFL blog and I wonder how this situation will interact with Covid-19 and the leagues desire to get the season done. It will be an incredibly tough season for the players, another thing for them to fight through. They shouldn’t have to, but they will.
The very least we can do is be witness to these efforts, support them how we can, and see these sporting heroes as they are, complex flawed individuals with gifts and shortcomings trying to find their way through this strange world, just like the rest of us.
Football is coming, sport is big business, and some people just want an escape from the world.
Believe me I get that.
However, some things are too important to ignore, and given the unifying effect sport can have, we should never, ‘Just stick to sports.’
My thoughts aren’t on pre-season, roster make up and the coming season right now.
I don’t think they should be.
And in truth, I don’t think yours should be either.
Maybe tomorrow, or the weekend, but not today.
Black Lives Matter
That shouldn’t be a radical statement. We can’t allow it to become an empty phrase.
There are plenty of people trying to prevent just that. It’s really a matter of if you are with them or not.