By Rob Connolly
The NBA players and coaches got it right. I’m proud and impressed by the leadership and activism shown by these athletes. Players and coaches continue to raise the discourse in America about racial and social justice, very effectively using their voices, their brands, and the large stage on which they work, play, and influence. By shutting down the NBA for two days this week—which led to other sports teams and athletes not playing—they stopped the “distraction” of sports and demanded that the attention be put on the brutal shooting by police of another Black man in America—seven brutal shots in the back of Jacob Blake with his kids in the car beside him.
Black athletes, especially those in team sports like the NBA, might be the strongest and most influential collection of Black voices in America. I am grateful that they are so effectively putting the issue of racial justice and police violence against Black people in America front and center for us all to face. I particularly want to call attention to the powerful remarks made by the Los Angeles Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, this week.
There are many directions that players’ activism can be taken, and I look forward to seeing where they choose to go. As a nation, I hope we push the issue of a national standard for police use of force … and that we look at 8 Can’t Wait. This movement pushes for the adoption of 8 rules for use of force by police. The 8 Can’t Wait movement states that adopting these eight practices can decrease police violence by 72% (this Vox article provides a helpful perspective and a lot more context and nuance). To be clear, I’m not saying that this should be the only reform, nor am I saying that it will solve all the issues of police violence, but I like it a lot as a starting place for decreasing shootings and killings, and increasing accountability—and it’s something that can happen relatively quickly. The movement for better policing can and should build from there. It should be clear to everyone that the path forward in America cannot be the status quo.
Artwork by Club member David, 2nd grade.