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Don't Underestimate Impact of NBA's Short Walkout

'There is a new standard of civil disobedience,' writes one observer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2020 9:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – NBA practices will resume Friday and games on Saturday after players staged an unprecedented strike over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, per the AP. And while the players were out of action just two days, plenty of observers suggest the impact of their protest will be long-lasting:

  • New precedent: It will take time to fully gauge the legacy of this protest, writes Jerry Brewer at the Washington Post. But one thing is clear: "There is a new standard of civil disobedience," he writes. Individual athletes have protested previously, but never have we seen such a unified walkout over social justice in any league. "The repercussions for ignoring athletes’ concerns have risen to an unprecedented level. It’s uncomfortable and, for some, infuriating. But this is where we are: A precedent has been set that amends the playbook of purposeful defiance."

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  • Jarring: The NBA walkout spread to other sports, and do not underestimate the significance of that, writes Will Leitch at New York. Sports stopped. "It was jarring and disorienting." Many see sports as an escape, and "what the NBA players, and many others, are saying now is that you, and I, have to stop doing that," he writes. "They are telling us to look not at them, but at what matters." Leitch calls the walkout "the most courageous, truly remarkable thing I’ve ever seen in sports."
  • A big shift: At Slate, Jack Hamilton suggests we may be watching a "sea change in the social fabric of American sports." He notes that the NBA, like many American sports, has a largely white management class and largely Black workforce. The players have made clear they want a larger voice in "shaping the conditions of the country they live in," and billionaire team owners would be foolish to ignore them. "They brought an entire lucrative industry to a halt and have undoubtedly brought terror to some of the country’s powerful people."
  • Inevitable: This moment started by the Milwaukee Bucks is not only unprecedented, it "feels somehow inevitable, as if there was no other possible outcome," writes author Jessica Luther at NBC News, who runs through the history of athlete activism. She notes that on Tuesday, LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said that he is too often reminded of his color by his own country and that we must "demand better." The very next day, "in an extraordinary move, the Bucks demanded exactly that."
  • Dissenting view: The fact that players "caved" and ended the strike so quickly proves the point made by Mike Pence's chief of staff that the walkout was "absurd and silly," according to a post at Twitchy. One tweet in the roundup argues that people would have moved on quickly to another form of entertainment if the NBA stopped playing entirely.
(Read more NBA stories.)

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