The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic as an act of solidarity with Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times by police on Sunday. The team’s decision prompted the NBA to postpone all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday.
Immediately following the NBA’s announcement, Major League Baseball, the WNBA, and Major League Soccer continued the wave of boycotts by postponing some or all of their games the same evening.
The NBA has been at the forefront of protests against racism and police brutality. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody, the NBA used its platform to bring awareness to systemic racism in the U.S.
Although the Bucks were scheduled to play the Magic at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, the team did not take to the court prior to tip off. Approximately three hours later, players exited the locker room to issue a statement.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” the statement reads.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we expect to play at a high level… We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”
The WNBA also decided to postpone three games slated for Wednesday. Players and WNBA officials, including Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, made statements concerning the boycott.
“We are running a very player-first agenda. We said that from the beginning. And that’s why I was here to listen and to talk with them. Maybe impart some of my knowledge from my experience and really help them think through strategically,” Engelbert said.
Major League Baseball postponed three games because players wanted to take a stand. The Brewers-Reds, Padres-Mariners, and Giants-Dodgers games will all be made up at a later date.
Major League Soccer also decided to postpone five matches scheduled for Wednesday. While most players objected to taking the field, the game between Nashville and Orlando proceeded.
Other athletes chose individually not to play, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. She refused to play her semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open in New York.
“Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman,” Osaka said on Twitter. “And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention.”