In the year 2020, everything is different. This has been a year like no other, so it is foolish to think that something as culturally sensitive as sports wouldn’t find itself changing as well.
There are two issues at play with this year’s attempt at sports: A global pandemic and a racial revolution here in the United States. In the case of COVID-19, we are seeing a number of changes to logistics within the MLB, NBA, MLS, and more, all with the stated goal of creating a safe environment for players and staff alike.
But in the case of the fight for racial equality, our celebrity athletes are engaging in society in ways we had only seen before in small pockets of the professional sporting world.
Take last night’s NBA opener for example.
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The NBA is finally back — and ahead of the first game of the league’s restart, players from both teams joined coaches and referees to kneel during the national anthem.
The league had to shift to a bubble format in Orlando, Fla., due to the coronavirus pandemic, and in the aftermath of the nationwide protests, following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, players have focused on social justice, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players from the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, as well as the game’s referees, made a statement on Thursday prior to tip-off. During a pre-recorded version of the national anthem, everyone on the court took a knee, while some players locked arms, and others raised their fists in the air.
The kneeling protest was made famous, (infamous?), by former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who chose to take a knee during the national anthem for maximum effect. This enraged a wide swath of the American public, and led to financial struggles for the NFL for several years.
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