PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – AUGUST 28
By Leo Haggerty

NBA PLAYERS ROLLING THE DICE

The first rule of sports reporting, and journalism in general for that matter, is to never comment on a situation until you have all the fact at your disposal.  If that’s not possible, then at least have secured a preponderance of correct and indisputable information on hand.

That’s the main reason I have waited to write on the following event.  It has given me a chance to let it marinate in my mind as well as verify sources.

Wednesday night, the National Basketball Association was forced to cancel all three of their contests when the players refused to play.  Below are the facts as have been disseminated to this point in time.

The NBA players were protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday night in Wisconsin. The man was shot by Kenosha police who were called to the scene of what was described as a domestic disturbance by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

According to the police, officers were trying to arrest Blake but were unable to accomplish that.  The police were also unable to stop him with a Taser.  When he opened the door of his vehicle and attempted to leave, an officer grabbed him by the shirt and shot him seven times in the back.

Now, there has been accusations that Blake had a knife.  That has not been collaborated to this point in time.

With all that being said, I believe the NBA players made a mistake and a miscalculation with their decision.  Let’s deal with the error first, shall we?

The NBA players failed to think through their action from a long term standpoint.  When they chose to boycott yesterday’s games, led by the Milwaukee Bucks, it was a knee-jerk reaction and I do not fault them for that.  This has become far to familiar a scenario.

If you’re an African American player or member of a specific franchise, this may be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like to be told perpetually that you need to move on instead of we are moving forward.  In their mind, this has to stop and, the time to take a stand is now.

What I am faulting the players for is that someone should have spoke up and simply asked, “What are we trying to accomplish with this?”  Basically, what benefits are we getting from refusing to play?

The players may believe that their decision to boycott games and, possibly, discontinue the season will have a lasting effect on the elimination of racism in the United States.  Although a very noble thought, if that is their mindset, then they need to get out of the “bubble” and get back to the real world.

One event isn’t going to bring about a cultural metamorphosis.  It’s a start but not a finish.

That leads to, in my opinion, the major miscalculation the players have made.  In my mind, it’s a big one and could be fatal.

I think NBA players have an extremely overinflated opinion of the influence their actions have on society in the United States.  That’s because of the situation that we are all living through during this pandemic.

We, the fans, went four months without professional basketball and we survived.  The sun came up for us in the morning and we survived to make it through the day.  We did this without being able to view the NBA either in person at the arenas or on television.

It was, and this will pain the players to come to this realization, a non-essential activity.  The Association doesn’t put gas in the car or food on the table.

Still, I applaud the NBA players for taking a stand and saying”enough is enough” when it comes to social justice.  No one should be targeted because of the color of their skin.  No debate on that.

They just needed to think through the ramifications of what long-term action to take.  As we saw, the players have started to do that deciding to continue with the “bubble” playoffs.  That’s because they will continue to have a national forum to make sure this latest tragedy is not swept under the rug.

Out of sight and out of mind is no longer acceptable course.  The status quo isn’t working.  Moving forward is the only viable option.

I don’t think anyone would disagree with the following statement which is at the core of the NBA protest.  Racism has no place in American society and has to stop.  End of story.