- Basketball: The NBA plans to resume playoffs on Saturday after three days of games were postponed by a player boycott to speak out against police brutality and anti-Black racism. The league and players said Friday that they had agreed to form a social-justice coalition and work with TV networks on awareness measures for the U.S. presidential election throughout the rest of the post-season.
- Hockey: Four playoff games will be held this weekend, the NHL says after it bowed to pressure from players and the Hockey Diversity Alliance to postpone Friday and Thursday’s games. Boston-Tampa Bay, New York-Philadelphia and Vancouver-Las Vegas are due to play on Saturday, and Dallas-Colorado on Sunday.
- Baseball: Friday is a day of on-field celebrations to honour Jackie Robinson, the Black American player who broke baseball’s colour barrier in the 1940s. Teams scheduled to play include the Toronto Blue Jays, whose game against the Red Sox was one of seven Thursday MLB games postponed as part of the boycott.
- Tennis: Semi-finals resume Friday at the Western & Southern Open in New York, which postponed Thursday’s matches after Naomi Osaka initially refused to participate, then said she would again. Canadian Milos Raonic is one of the players taking part.
Jacob Blake and how this started
The shooting: This past Sunday, a 29-year-old Black man named Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., who said afterward that they were responding to a domestic dispute nearby. A cellphone video showed officers following Mr. Blake, with guns drawn, to his SUV – which contained three of Mr. Blake’s young children – and yelling at him before opening fire. Mr. Blake survived, but his family and lawyer say his spinal cord was severed, and it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again. The officers were put on administrative leave and police later identified the one who shot Mr. Blake as Rusten Sheskey.
The protests: The Kenosha shooting reignited protests against police brutality in cities across the United States that had only recently seen more demonstrations against May 25′s killing of another Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police. Wisconsin and several other states ordered their National Guard forces to combat the protests, which turned deadly in Kenosha when a 17-year-old white man, an admirer of police, shot two people to death and wounded another on Tuesday. The protests grew more peaceful as the week went on.
Games and leagues affected so far
- Games affected: The Milwaukee Bucks were among the first to boycott games to take a stand against racism, with other teams following suit. Three Game 5s of first-round playoff series – Bucks vs. Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers – were delayed on Wednesday. Games scheduled for Thursday and Friday, including the Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics, were also postponed. Separately, NBA referees staged a protest march on the NBA’s bubble campus in Disney World Thursday morning.
- Future steps: The NBA and players announced an agreement on Friday to resume the playoffs on Saturday and create a social-justice coalition that would focus on criminal-justice reform and voting access in the United States. Owners who control their arena properties also committed to work with state officials to provide safe, in-person voting locations in the upcoming U.S. election.
- Games affected: The WNBA postponed its slate of three games for Wednesday: Washington Mystics vs. Atlanta Dream, Minnesota Lynx vs. Los Angeles Sparks, and Connecticut Sun vs. Phoenix Mercury. It has also postponed Thursday’s action: Indiana Fever vs. Chicago Sky, Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx, and Connecticut Sun vs. Phoenix Mercury. The league agreed to resume play on Friday.
- Practices affected: Several football teams – including Arizona, Chicago, Denver, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New York, Tennessee, Washington and Baltimore – cancelled practices on Thursday and Friday in response to the shooting of Mr. Blake.
- Games affected: After Wednesday’s games went ahead, the NHL was criticized by the Hockey Diversity Alliance for not acting sooner, and then postponed Thursday and Friday’s games. That affects four matches: New York vs. Philadelphia, Vancouver vs. Las Vegas and Tampa Bay vs. Boston (which the league said are now due to take place on Saturday) and Colorado vs. Dallas (scheduled for Sunday).
- Games affected: Three Wednesday games were postponed after players refused to take part: Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants. More games were postponed on Thursday, but teams returned to the fields on Friday for Jackie Robinson Day. (The day honouring the pioneering Black baseballer normally takes place in April, but due to the pandemic, the events were put off until this week.)
- Games affected: The Western & Southern Open tournament in New York decided to suspend play on Thursday after Naomi Osaka said she would not play in the semi-finals. She later said she’d be back after all to play on Friday against Elise Mertens, with the finals to follow on Saturday.
- Games affected: Five Wednesday matches were postponed in a collective decision between players and staff: Atlanta United vs. Inter Miami, FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids, Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC and the LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders. Only one Wednesday match went ahead between Orlando City and Nashville SC.
- Future steps: MLS announced Friday that the league is resuming play after discussions with the group Black Players for Change, the MLS Players Association and other league players. The deal comes with promises of conversations between Black Players for Change and the league’ owners about additional actions.
The bigger picture in U.S. politics
Athletes are taking a stand at a crucial time in the presidency of Donald Trump, who has butted heads with leagues in the past about players’ support for protests that he says are criminal vandalism and has sought to suppress with federal troops. Mr. Trump was at the Republican National Convention this week to be confirmed again as the Republican presidential candidate, and he faces re-election in November. On Thursday, Mr. Trump criticized the NBA: “They’ve become like a political organization and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
The bigger picture in sport
American professional athletes have been increasingly vocal about police brutality and anti-Black racism in the past four years, such as quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s practice of “taking a knee” during the U.S. national anthem, which spread throughout the NFL and other sports. Athletes also spoke out against this summer’s killing of George Floyd, but when those protests were at their peak in May and June, sports leagues had suspended play due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as games come back with strict physical-distancing rules and few if any spectators, players who want to protest have more leverage than ever to do so. Globe sports columnist Cathal Kelly reflected on what that could mean:
Now, at least temporarily, the athletes have taken control of the means of production. They will determine when, if and how sports continue. They are in a position to issue demands and expect they will be met. They can revisit their positions later and amend them. They can do whatever they like. And no one – least of all ownership – is in a position to issue counter-proposals. The moment is too fraught for that. An open argument might provoke tangible unrest among real, non-basketball playing people. Handled poorly, this could get ugly in a hurry.
On the American moment
On police, politics and race
Compiled by Globe staff
The Associated Press, Reuters and The Canadian Press, with reports from Globe staff
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