Americans the nation over have been waiting, (and waiting and waiting), for the return of professional sports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly all sports leagues, from Major League Baseball to the Professional Disc Golf Association, were forced to cancel or postpone their professional seasons on account of the coronavirus concerns that engulfed the plant back in the early parts of 2020.
Now, months into this mess, several of these leagues are looking for ways to continue providing entertainment for the people, but are running into several dead ends as far as safety is concerned. For leagues such as the MLS, it appears as though sending teams to Orlando to compete in pseudo-isolation is the key. The NBA has conceded that a similar plan is being considered for the resumption of their shortened season, but not everyone is on-board.
Players have expressed multiple concerns, ranging from visitor policies to Disney staff protocols to Florida’s record levels of new COVID-19 cases. But the main issue for some is that a return to play would distract from the nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism.
Kyrie Irving hosted a Zoom meeting on Friday with over 80 players to discuss the matter. “I’m willing to give up everything I have [for social reform],” he reportedly said on the call.
“Once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to ‘who did what’ in the game last night,” one anonymous player told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
And that’s not the only reason why.
While some believe playing basketball would detract from the Black Lives Matter movement, others — including LeBron James — believe it would provide them with a megaphone to promote their message.
“[LeBron] wants to keep making his mark off the court. He wants to play basketball. And as has always been the case, he clearly believes he can do both at the same time,” writes The Athletic’s Sam Amick, citing sources close to James (subscription).
“We can do both. We can play and we can help change the way black lives are lived,” Rockets guard Austin Rivers wrote on Instagram. “But canceling or boycotting [a] return doesn’t do that in my opinion.”
It looks like basketball fans may have to wait just a little longer for their preferred leisure-time entertainment to resume.
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