When it was announced the NBA would return on July 31st, most fans were ecstatic. Despite the Covid-19 outbreak forcing the league to adapt a new look, most fans were happy to get whatever basketball they can. However, things have changed since that announcement. The roots of a social and racial revolution have began to grow. As a result, many see the NBA and other sports as a distraction from that revolution. One player in particular has been more vocal than most, but is he right?
The most vocal critic of the NBA’s return is Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is completely against basketball, or any other sport, being played right now. His main issues are the timing of the return, in regards to racial and social issues, and safety concerns; the former of which is his main problem. He believes any sports being played would be a distraction from the fight for racial equality that has been even more fierce since the murder of George Floyd by Minnesota police. Irving was quoted saying the following:
“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy.”Kyrie Irving commenting on the NBA restart to the Athletic’s Shams Charania
It’s his opinion that while the black community has the attention of the nation, we shouldn’t stop progress to by sharing our focus with sports. For that, he does have a point.
Where I Stand
While Irving makes a great point about seizing the momentum of the moment, I believe that there is away to both have sports and continue the battle against systemic racism. The players can produce public service announcements or statements while play is ongoing. Athletes have the power to both entertain and inform consumers.
Irving also doesn’t give sports fans enough credit. Wanting to see sports and wanting to fight for system-wide change aren’t mutually exclusive- we can want both. As a result, let them play and keep the message in our consciousness and we will do our part on the front lines.