Sports teams and athletes across the United States have boycotted matches in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake last Sunday. Blake, a 29 year old black man, has reportedly been left paralysed after being shot in the back seven times by police.
The shooting has sparked a wave of marches and demonstrations in recent days after Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin. On Wednesday the Milwaukee Bucks, who play 40 miles from where the shooting took place, called off their NBA play-off against Orlando Magic in protest.
In the WNBA, three games were called off on the same day. The Washington Mystics’ gave a particularly visual protest, with the players wearing t-shirts that spelled out ‘Jacob Blake’, which had seven painted bullet holes on the back.
On Thursday, more games across US sport were postponed for a second day. The NBA called off the day’s games after the player walk-out the previous day. In addition, games were called off in the MLS and MLB.
Japanese tennis player, Naomi Osaka, pulled out of her WTA match in New York and released this statement on Twitter:
Former president Barack Obama, himself an avid basketball fan, also endorsed the boycotts on Twitter:
However, there has been some backlash to the protests. In particular, the owner of MLS side Real Salt Lake said he felt “disrespected” by the cancellation of the game. In conversation with a local radio station, he compared the postponement to “being stabbed”. Salt Lake’s owner, Dell Loy Hansen said: “we’re all sitting here at an organization trying to build support and love around a team that sports the city. All I can say is they supported other issues nationally. They clearly did not support our city or our organisation”. As a consequence, billionaire Hansen said he would be reducing his investment in the club.
Ex-Manchester City and Real Salt Lake Player, Nedum Onouha, said he was “brought to tears” by the response from his owner. An investigation has been launched by the MLS into the potential use of previous allegations of racism against Hansen.
On Wednesday night, the NBA held talks to discuss whether the season would be resumed after the postponements of the play-offs. However, NBA players voted on Thursday morning to continue and it is thought that the games will be played over the weekend.
Featured image: via @ESPN on Twitter
Last modified: 28th August 2020