VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Sports continue to take a backseat as athletes join calls to fight racial injustice and police brutality.
The most recent bout of the ongoing call to end racism came after the weekend police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jacob Blake was shot in the back several times by officers, in front of his children. The shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Some are calling this week, which has seen games across all sports postponed, a watershed moment.
However, James Cybulski with Sportsnet 650 says we’ll have to wait and see before we call it that definitively.
“What things look like down the road years from now. But, we were just recently on the four year anniversary of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee at an NFL pre-season game where he protested police brutality. And it effectively cost Colin Kaepernick his career in pro-football,” he says. “Here was a guy who was three years removed from being a Superbowl quarterback and never played again after that 2016 season. All because he kneeled to protest police brutality.”
Four years ago today, Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism.
Do you understand now? pic.twitter.com/mAlfiUjJmg
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 26, 2020
It wasn’t until this year that the NFL finally admitted it was wrong and that it should have listened to calls against racism.
Players in the NBA were the first to refuse to play on Wednesday this week, sparking a domino effect of postponed games across that league and others.
However, the NHL was late to follow suit. Games on Wednesday proceeded despite calls for players to sit them out, and the NHL instead held a “moment of reflection.” The league was criticized for not doing more to join the fight against racial injustice, but on Thursday, hockey players joined the call and decided they, too, would not play.
Better late than never, Cybulski says.
We can all criticize the NHL for taking too long to react and how they simply caved to public pressure. And it’s all valid. But I’d also add it’s never too late to do the right thing. NEVER.
— James Cybulski (@JamesCybulski) August 27, 2020
“The interesting thing is, Major League Baseball continued to play last night (Thursday). There were four double headers played, so eight games in all on the Major League Baseball schedule yesterday (Thursday),” he tells NEWS 1130.
“But what Major League Baseball did do, going back to Wednesday night, was the fact that those late games, teams stepped up and said, ‘You know what, we see what’s going on in the NBA and we’re going to stop.’ Major League Soccer did the same thing. The WNBA. And games that had time to kind of look and react, they stepped up in those moments.”
The NHL will not resume play until at least Saturday. It’s unclear when NBA players will return to the court, however, there are talks about resuming as early as Friday evening.
“To me, it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Cybulski says, adding people survived more than four months without sports when they were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says “Two days to recognize what’s happening in the world around us,” isn’t going to hurt.
“The NBA, which is a predominantly African-American league, a lot of players are finally tired of seeing what’s happening. They’re tired of seeing these videos pop up. Stories that have been out there for years, and years, and years, that systemic racism still exists and they want to do something about it,” Cybulski explains.
And whether people agree with the stance or not, Cybulski says the players have given everyone an opportunity to have a conversation about racism.
“And they started with George Floyd three months ago, and they stopped. Here we are after the shooting of Jacob Blake and we’re talking about it again.”
Floyd was killed at the hands of police while being arrested in Minneapolis in May. Video of the 46-year-old Black man was widely shared and showed a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd could be heard pleading for the officer to get off, telling him “I can’t breathe” — words that would be used in protests for weeks after.