Across the sports world, athletes took a stand for Black Lives Matter on Wednesday night by holding an unprecedented wildcat strike and refusing to play their regularly scheduled games.
The decision started with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and stemmed from the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday. The stand quickly spread across a number of sports – from basketball courts in Florida to baseball diamonds in California to soccer fields in places like Miami and Salt Lake City and even into the broadcast booth, where TNT’s “Inside the NBA” analyst Kenny Smith took off his mic and walked off stage.
But the issue is bigger than Jacob Blake or George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. Malcolm Jenkins of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints positioned the protests as a response to the systemic racism baked into America, including police violence, cycles of incarceration, and the plunder of generational wealth.
“Until we continue to demand it, until ‘Black Lives Matter’ goes from just an idea or a goal that we’re trying to attain as a society and is actually realized in the streets, we won’t see any peace,” he said. “And I think we’ll continue to see athletes, entertainers as well as citizens disrupt the status quo until that’s recognized.”
Here’s a look at the teams and athletes who pulled back in order to have their voices be heard.