Looking around the spectrum at the sea of professional athletes, from baseball to the NBA. It seems like players are slowly coming to their senses.
They have the power.
They hold the keys to if, or when, their season will begin, during the worst pandemic in a century, and it has been a jubilant feeling to finally see them acknowledge their strength publicly.
It was reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Friday that various players are upset that they didn’t have a voice in the National Basketball Players Association executive committee and its board of representatives vote, which approved the league’s 22-team, return-to-play format that will will be held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., in late July.
“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” a black player told Yahoo Sports. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”
Taylor Rooks and Howard Beck of Bleacher Report earlier today said that Kyrie Irving will be hosting a meeting Friday night with players to discuss their stance on this. Amid so much racial tension, Irving thinks canceling the season should be considered.
According to Haynes, Some players believe in light of the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police and the ongoing conversations on race in this country, the optics of players and owners returning to play solely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden doesn’t make sense.
This is true.
In light of the country’s much needed awakening on anti-black systemic racism stretching from east to west coast, what message are you sending especially when the NBA is roughly 74% black? And with the exception of Michael Jordan, Vivek Ranadive, Joseph Tsai, NBA team owners are white.
Martellus Bennett made the point last week in regards to the NFL owner/ player model, the system was built on the backs of black athletes and when you think about it that is extremely similar in the NBA.
When both the NFL and NBA took off outside of the U.S. there were other factors at play but their black players were the key pieces of how they garnered major recognition. Yet black ownership in both leagues is abysmal — non-existent in the NFL’s case.
The player that spoke off-the-record made an important point about the owners not being present during the agreed-upon end of the season tournament in Orlando. And the pressure black players are feeling to save the NBA from its loss in profits is due to the pandemic.
Let’s first take sports out of this for a moment and look at the dynamics of our country as a whole. Black workers prop up this economy on a daily basis but are always in a perpetual cycle of guilt if the company itself is experiencing financial strain — even if we ourselves are not responsible.
During that time we are not likely self-reflective enough to evaluate and determine if we should be burdening ourselves with the stress. That’s because we are typically the folks at the bottom who usually face the brunt of the pay cut due to the company’s financial downturn.
And then most of that guilt has to do with the messaging we have been fed for decades. “If you’re not successful/ poor it’s because you aren’t trying.” Or this whole notion of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” These fallacies completely ignore the defective system that this country has sold us on that doesn’t allow equal access or opportunity as it advertises.
But in the NBA’s case this isn’t a matter of financial lack on the end for the players, it’s just the generational psychology that has been passed down to us. “The owner has experienced loss so we must recoup these losses for him.”
Right now what needs to be asked: How do you feel? Does being everyone’s entertainment or distraction make sense right now especially when everyone seems to be dialed into a topic that heavily affects your community?
Just an assessment: these billionaire owners are completely fine with the season not finishing up. Their profit losses are not that important to them otherwise they would hop on their jet and make their way down to Orlando — at the very least.
The player, media, family bubble just based on the owners decisions not to be present seem to be something they are not willing to take a risk on. Florida had 1,902 confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday and with 136 coming from Orlando. That was the city’s highest total since testing began in the state in early March.
Watching the NBA’s agreement, compared to the stalled negotiations of MLB owners and the MLBPA it just makes you wonder: When things tamper down, will players continue to use their voices to protect themselves? To protect their families?