By Griffin Winter ’21
When the NBA restarted in the bubble, they made a major commitment to both racial justice and civic participation in the upcoming election.
On Aug. 23, a man named Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Following that event, the Milwaukee Bucks went on a strike in the 2020 NBA playoffs in order to call attention to racial justice.
“In the meeting, it came up, ‘Let’s walk the walk. We can’t just do the talk.’ I think it was like 20% of the players voted in the last election or something like that and, … We are trying to get every team registered, every player registered to vote,” said then Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers in response to a player meeting talking about the Jacob Blake shooting.
The Bucks returned to the court and the NBA resumed play to finish out the 2020 season in the bubble, but the NBA made a commitment to justice in America.
The league committed to give $300 million towards “economic empowerment in the Black community” over the next ten years and has opened up NBA arenas for polling locations across the United States.
In Phoenix, the former Suns stadium, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, has been made into an early voting ballot dropoff and voting center on election day.
The NBA has been the first major sports league to put their money where their mouth is and put money and action towards change in America.
“I think that’s a good thing. We need as many polling locations as possible,” said member of the Young Democrats Tommy Logan ’21 in response to the NBA opening up arenas as polling locations.
While Logan thought that what the NBA did was good, he says it needs to be a first step toward a larger goal. “The movement needs something concrete, something like a policy proposal. During the Civil Rights Movement, it was the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. What is the NBA’s solution that could be passed in Congress or city councils?”
“Civic engagement should be the number one priority in an election year where tensions are high,” said member of the Young Republicans Max Murphy ’21. “It was a great move and a great compromise to the players to continue the momentum they had with the BLM movement.”