The sports world came to an unprecedented halt Wednesday as professional athletes in women’s basketball, men’s basketball, men’s soccer and baseball refused to play their games to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times in the back Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Mariners, in a unanimous vote, refused to play their scheduled game Wednesday night in San Diego. The Mariners have 11 Black players on their 40-man roster, more than any team in Major League Baseball.
“There are serious issues in this country,” the Mariners’ Dee Gordon tweeted. “For me, and for many of my teammates, the injustices, violence, death and systemic racism is deeply personal. This is impacting not only my community, but very directly my family and friends. …
“Instead of watching us, we hope people will focus on the things more important than sports that are happening.”
Milwaukee Brewers players also voted not to play their game against Cincinnati on Wednesday; the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants did the same later Wednesday. It is believed to be the first time in Major League Baseball history that players refused to play games because of social-justice and racial-equality issues.
“Enough is enough,” Mariners rookie pitcher Justin Dunn tweeted.
Milwaukee Bucks players kicked off Wednesday’s movement, forcing the NBA to postpone all three of its scheduled playoff games in Orlando, Florida.
WNBA players followed suit, and the league postponed its three games. WNBA players, in their bubble in Bradenton, Florida, gathered on one court, locked arms and knelt in silence Wednesday evening to protest the shooting of Blake. Atlanta Dream center Elizabeth Williams then read aloud a prepared statement on behalf of WNBA players.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and continue to take collective action,” she said. “What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change. These moments are why it’s important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts and connect the dots from what we say to what we do.”
In MLS, the Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy chose not to play their match scheduled for Wednesday night in L.A. Sounders star forward Jordan Morris and goalkeeper Stefan Frei were among those who voiced their concerns on Twitter.
“Silence is violence. This fight is so much bigger than sports,” Morris wrote.
“Disturbing times, not in the mood to play. Human rights are bigger than sports,” Frei tweeted.
News of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision began to spread during the middle of the Seahawks’ mock game at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday afternoon. Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin said he first got word when he returned to the locker room after the scrimmage and found a text message from his father.
“He was like, ‘Did you see what just happened? Man, I’m so proud of the NBA,’ ” Griffin said. “That’s when I went on Twitter and kind of saw everything that was going on.”
New Seahawks safety Jamal Adams also took to Twitter after the scrimmage, writing: “WE WANT CHANGE. WE WANT JUSTICE.” He added in a later post: “Respect to the NBA players for sacrificing their passion & livelihood to demonstrate our anger and frustration! This can’t keep going on.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been a strong advocate for Black Lives Matter, and on Tuesday night he invited Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to speak to the Seahawks on a Zoom video call. Carroll called the 40-minute conversation with Booker, who is Black, “amazing.”
In a news conference after Wednesday’s mock game, Carroll called this year “the season of protest” and vowed that the Seahawks would “do our part” to continue the discussion around racial injustice.
“Just in hopes that we can be there to help and support when we can and have influence where we can,” Carroll said. “The whole Black Lives Matter thing couldn’t be more obvious, how true this whole movement is and how much focus and change needs to come. It’s just so clear, and I hope we can do something to help.”