Politics have perhaps never been more ingrained in sports as they are today. Once upon a time, sports, recreation and entertainment served as a momentary escape for both those who watched and those who performed. That is no longer the case. A memo sent from the NBA to its 30 teams this weekend serves not only as an example of where we’re at but proof that there is no end in sight.
ESPN NBA analyst Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday that the NBA has informed teams to prepare for vigilant action based on the pending verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Such actions could even include NBA game postponements.
ESPN Sources: The NBA has instructed teams to be vigilant about the impact of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial for the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this week, including the possibility of game postponements: https://t.co/Fret5G0Lxi
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 18, 2021
In case you’ve been living under a rock, let me try to catch you up quickly. George Floyd died tragically in a confrontation with police officers last summer in a Minneapolis suburb. Thanks to the ever-efficient judiciary process, the trial for officer Derek Chauvin that stemmed from the incident just took place over the past couple of weeks. Both the prosecution and defense officially rested on Friday. That means the next step will be for the jury to produce a verdict on the whole thing. That decision could come as soon as Monday and likely will come at some point in the coming week.
The NBA was among the numerous professional sports leagues to embrace the summer of identity politics that ensued following Floyd’s death last year. When the league resumed its season in the Orlando bubble, “Black Lives Matter” adorned the playing courts. Nearly all players chose to partake in the act of kneeling for the national anthem. Social justice taglines and slogans were displayed on warmup gear and the backs of the player’s game jerseys. Playoff games were boycotted as more incidents and riots ensued across the country.
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The whole movement has continued into the 2020-21 NBA season as well. Most recently, the Minnesota Timberwolves postponed a game in reaction to another citizen-police confrontation that resulted in the death of Daunte Wright. Now, it appears that the league is prepared to postpone games at scale depending on the Chauvin trial verdict.
I hate to say it, but I’m not sure postponing games will hasten any sort of common ground being found. In fact, said common ground simply doesn’t even seem possible for several issues permeating society today. As someone who loved sports growing up and still does to this day, I have to admit it’s sad to see the hatred and identity politics taking such a firm root in athletic competition.