WE THE CITY

The NBA took a stand against police violence. But a second message quickly became clear

When NBA teams elected to sit out Wednesday’s slate of playoff games in a player-led protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, it set off a chain reaction unlike anything ever seen in American sports. Within hours, several MLB and MLS teams, led by their players, decided to pause the night’s contests. The unprecedented stoppage stretched into a second day Thursday as more MLB teams postponed games. The WNBA, always at the forefront of sports activism, put a pause on their nascent season.

The goal was to take a real stand against the ongoing spate of police violence plaguing the country. But a second message became abundantly clear: Where the NBA’s biggest stars go, others will follow.
Why does it seem like professional basketball is always one step ahead when it comes to the social justice conversation? After all, the NFL has struggled for years to contend with the legacy sparked by Colin Kaepernick’s activism. MLB’s approaches to issues of race and justice have lacked coherence, and the NHL was slow to assert themselves in the most recent conversation. The WNBA and MLS, as progressive and influential as they are, cannot match the league’s power and influence.

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