At this moment, the sports world is experiencing a sentiment that African-Americans have always known.
Black is beautiful.
Entire teams are kneeling during the anthem. The NCAA is going to allow players to wear patches on their uniforms for racial justice, while the same will take place in the NFL on helmet decals. Black Lives Matter banners have been raised in places like Boston, while it’s been plastered all over NBA and WNBA courts.
It’s truly been a moment.
But, at some point, the unified kneeling will stop. The banners will come down. The stickers and decals will go away. And basketball courts will stop looking like hardwood billboards.
In the past, we’ve seen sports put on a good front when it came to breast cancer awareness, CTE, and domestic violence. But after a while, the conversations stopped and it was back to business.
It’s the same way with school shootings. Things have gotten so bad that they’ve become the norm. And remember those kids that were locked in cages after being taken away from their parents?
Well, they’re still there.
We’ve just stopped talking and “caring” about them.
These are just a few examples of why there’s an expiration date on the Black Lives Matters movement in sports. For one, these leagues and teams, and this country, aren’t governed by people who care enough about Black lives to keep this going. And two, this is a nation that loves fads. If it’s trendy, we’re on it. And right now, caring about Black people is popular.
But, for how long?
“It’s cool right now to yell Black Lives Matter, but in six months when everybody gets back to normal and it’s no longer cool are they still going to stand by those guys?” Draymond Green asked last month on TNT’s “The Arena.”
The network created the show so that Black athletes can ask these kinds of questions and have these types of discussions. However, TNT hasn’t announced that they’re going to make this show a mainstay on their airwaves. It was a special program for a special moment. Ongoing programming it is not.
For instance, the next time you watch an NBA game, pay attention to how the commentators address the magnitude of this moment. Because even in their best attempts, they’re taking the safe route and referring to it as “social justice,” and not currently labeling it as “racial justice”.
Like clockwork, President Trump is doing everything he can to take away from this moment by claiming it to be something it’s not.
“I think it’s disgraceful. We work with [the NBA]. We work very hard trying to get them open,” said the President on Wednesday, as he ran to Fox News, as usual, to spew his hatred.
“I was pushing them to get open. And then I see everyone kneeling during the anthem. It’s not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game.”
Last week, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Sean Roberts threatened to pull tax breaks from the Oklahoma City Thunder if players took a knee.
“If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma,” he wrote in a statement. The Thunder did so anyway, and nothing happened. Racists have a long history of being cowards.
When, and if, sports continue in 2021 you can be sure that the majority of things across the sports world will be back to normal. Fewer players will kneel, and uniforms will have a more traditional look. Well, except for the WNBA, because that’s a league that has proved to us for years that they care about making an impact.
One thing that America does better than any other country – besides hating Black people – is to behave as if it cares about important issues, only to treat them like outdated agendas as soon as it no longer serves them.
So when it happens, don’t be surprised. It’s an approach that’s as American as racism and inequality.