The shooting of Jacob Blake has put the sports world on pause.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times in the back on Sunday by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Since the shooting, athletes, teams and leagues have been outspoken and also taken action, including agreeing not to play games.
The most profound moment in the days after Blake’s shooting was when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted its Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic last night. After the Bucks boycott, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets revealed they would not play and shortly after the NBA said all of Wednesday’s games would be postponed.
Since then, athletic brands and retailers have joined the discussion, and other athletes have revealed similar decisions to forego playing in their respective sports.
Below is an ongoing list of the athletes, teams, leagues, brands and retailers who are speaking out against systemic racism against the Black community.
The Milwaukee Bucks was the first team in sports to take action Wednesday by boycotting its matchup against the Orlando Magic. With the boycott underway, the team — led by its players — recited a statement to press on its decision that was then shared by the team’s Twitter account. “Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting o protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” the statement read.
The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their First Round series vs. the Orlando Magic this afternoon.
The team provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ul5rMlitlS
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
NBA insiders reported after the Bucks’ boycott that players were scheduled to meet within the NBA bubble in Florida. Reports from insiders including ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed parts of the discussion including Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics stating the Bucks didn’t need to explain their decision and that “he fully supported what they did.” Also, Wojnarowski reported on Twitter that Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder urged players to leave the meeting unified, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers stated they needed a plan of action and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talked “using platform, voting, holding police accountable.” Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium revealed on Twitter that the Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers voted to boycott the NBA season and most other teams voted to continue, and that LeBron James of the Lakers then left with his teammates and the Clippers leaving with him.
Sources: As some in tonight's meeting wanted to hear Bucks' explanation for making an abrupt decision independent of rest of teams to boycott game, Boston's Jaylen Brown essentially said that the Bucks didn't need to explain themselves and he fully supported what they did today.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
On Thursday morning, Wojnarowski reported via Twitter that the NBA players decided to resume the playoffs and that the return to games is expected by the weekend, but could come as early as Friday.
And on Thursday afternoon, WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike announced on SportsCenter — which was then shared to its social media network — that the WNBA will postpone the day’s games.
The resumption of playoff games could come as soon as Friday, but there is expected to be a return to this season by the weekend, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/A2PazNKDhy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
Breaking: The WNBA will postpone today's games, WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike announced on SportsCenter. pic.twitter.com/BS8YTmrPKj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 27, 2020
Players in the WNBA have historically been leaders in fighting social injustice and it has been no different with the recent heightened racial inequity discussion and the shooting of Blake. The WNBA joined the NBA in protesting the police shooting of Blake by postponing its Wednesday games. After the postponement was announced, ESPN W shared an interview on the court via Twitter with Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins, who said, “We’re not just basketball players and if you think we are then don’t watch us, you’re watching the wrong sport because we’re so much more than that. We’re going to say what we need to say and people need to hear that.” The interview took place after the Mystics spelled “Jacob Blake” with their T-shirts that also had seven holes on the back for the seven shots that a police officer fired into Blake on Sunday.
Ariel Atkins with a powerful message on why WNBA players decided not to play tonight. pic.twitter.com/CGs0eXmTI5
— espnW (@espnW) August 26, 2020
On Thursday morning, the NBA referees marched around the NBA bubble campus against racism and in support of the players. Almost every referee was wearing a T-shirt with a message that read: “Everybody vs. Racism.” Those who weren’t in the T-shirt were clad in apparel with similar messaging.
The NBA referees beginning their march against racism this morning at 9am in the bubble. pic.twitter.com/ZHgbZ6PEX5
— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) August 27, 2020
Please stand with us at 9 ET this morning as we march against racism and grieve for the black lives taken too soon. Join us as we unite in the bubble, and around the world, to fight injustice and police brutality. #EverybodyvsRacism@NBA @TheNBPA
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) August 27, 2020
Shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks boycott, news broke that MLB teams — starting with the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds — would not play their Wednesday night games. Other games, including matchups between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres were postponed. (ESPN stated the Mariners have the most Black players in MLB.)
Tennis star Naomi Osaka announced on social media Wednesday that she would not play in the semifinal round of the Western & Southern Open on Thursday because of the shooting of Blake. “Before I am a athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention rather than watch me play tennis,” Osaka wrote in a statement.
The athletic powerhouse sent a statement to FN via email. “Nike stands in support of NBA and WNBA players and athletes across the sports community in their response to the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake. We remain committed to addressing the issue of systemic racism experienced by the Black community.”
Amid the boycotts and postponements, Adidas released a direct message across its many social media channels: “We support all players and coaches across sport who are using their platforms to demand justice. Black lives matter.”
German athletic giant Puma announced its support of the actions taken by NBA and WNBA players via its @pumahoops Twitter account. “We support our players and every player in the ongoing fight for equality. This is bigger than the game, and we will continue to be allies to our players in the fight to end systemic racism. #BlackLivesMatter,” the brand wrote. In a subsequent tweet, the brand listed some of the names of Black men and women who have tragically been killed: “Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Ariane McCree, Terrance Franklin, Michael Dean, E.J. Bradford Jr., Jamee Johnson, Antwon Rose, Stephon Clark, and too many more. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Foot Locker, as well as the other banners it owns such as Eastbay and Champs Sports, shared a unified message with its followers. “The shootings of Jacob Blake and those that came before him are incomprehensible. We stand in solidarity to end systemic racism and to fight against the injustices we continue to witness,” the retailer wrote in a statement.
The Baltimore-based brand released a statement via social media on Thursday, saying that Black lives matter and revealed its support of the decisions made my NBA and WNBA players. “‘We Stand for Equality’ remains one of our standing values at Under Armour, and we are committed to doing our part to champion all athletes, teammates and members of our community in support of racial and social justice,” the statement read.