Monday was supposed to be a big day for sports in Minneapolis: home matches for the baseball team, basketball team and ice hockey team. But sport has become a secondary issue. The three teams decided to postpone their matches. There were more important things than baseball, basketball and ice hockey.
The day before, Don Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was killed at a traffic station in the greater Minneapolis area. Coincidentally, the police said. One of the officers used an actual weapon instead of a stun gun.
Minnesota Twins said baseball is “a little less important”. Timber Wolves of the NBA and Wild of the NHL Ice Hockey League made similar statements. Out of respect to the Daunte Wright family, they don’t want to play.
Athletes use their theater for clear messages
All of this is somewhat reminiscent of the case of George Floyd, who died painfully as a result of police violence in Minneapolis at the end of May – and whose suspected killer is currently on trial there. When Floyd died, all professional leagues stopped playing due to Covid-19.
Only when seasons could end in closed bubbles did athletes use their theater to send clear messages and, among other things, became more involved than at any time in the run-up to the presidential election.
Utah Jazz – New Orleans Pelicans (dpa-Bildfunk / AP / Ashley Landis)Police Violence Protest – No baskets, no goals in American sport
After white police officers shoot unarmed black Jacob Blake, there has been a wave of protests in American sport. The NHL Ice Hockey League also canceled their matches on Thursday – thus the other US leagues followed. The NBA shows its solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
But this time, they were able to respond immediately. Baseball professionals Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox were already on the field, and the national anthem was ringing when the decision was made not to play. According to former basketball professional and current ESPN expert Richard Jefferson, this is a reasonable and normal reaction now.
“The protest from the sports leagues is now part of it. There is no turning back. This is the reality. Like it or not. I salute all the sports leagues that say: We don’t want to play today’s matches, we have to deal with something else.”
Protests in sports also elsewhere
There was also a supra-regional backlash. Before the NBA game Orlando against San Antonio the two teams knelt together. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovic asked, visibly annoyed:
“How many times should something like this happen? As bad as we feel, he is dead. He is dead. His family and friends are grieving. We continue to work as if nothing had happened.”