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'Tired Of The Killings': Pro Athletes Refuse To Play Amid Racial Injustice Protests

 August 27, 2020 at 10:27 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Our top story today as Swift and startling reaction by professional athletes who boycotted some basketball, baseball, and soccer games. Following the police shooting of a black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, it started when the Milwaukee bucks whose home arena's an hour away from Kenosha refused to leave their dressing room for an NBA playoff game in Florida against the Orlando magic baseballs, Milwaukee brewers soon followed suit. The Seattle Mariners voted to cancel their game in San Diego against the Padres. Then the Dodgers canceled against the giants in LA women players for the w NBA Washington mystics appeared for their schedule game with t-shirts sparing seven red bullet holes printed on the back and honor of Jacob Blake. He's the 29 year old Kenosha man gravely wounded in Sunday's police shooting. Meantime, the NBA says it's playoff games will resume today. Joining me to discuss this as pastor Greg Hendricks of the rock church East County. Who's also a former pro basketball player and assistant coach in the NBA. Welcome to midday edition. Thanks for having me Mark. Well, what do you make of this most recent wave of activism by professional athletes against racial injustice and police bias? Speaker 2: 01:13 Uh, you know, it's, I think that what you're seeing has been, you know, brewing over, you know, months and months and months of things that have been going on prior to mr. Blake being shot. The fact that the matter that these athletes who were on the major stage, uh, global platforms, they're using their voice to say, Hey, we need to see some change here. Our, our, our situation and our country is not right. Um, we need to see some reform, um, things need to be corrected and we're willing to stop what we're doing, which is, you know, making a livelihood, bringing entertainment to fans all around the world. We're really to stop what we're doing. And to let people know that you need to be engaged in this issue right here, because this is a problem. And not only does it impact just the common everyday person who are fans of the game, or who may be watching the game, but it impacts us who are playing the game. Speaker 1: 02:07 No, as a black athlete and coach, what's been your experience with racism. Speaker 2: 02:11 Uh, you know, I've had, uh, incidences that have happened from being looked over for positions. I've seen it on different levels, um, some more extreme than others. Um, but what I, what I have noticed is the fact that the matter is it's it, how you deal with it really, really can dictate, um, your whole experience on what that looks like. Granted that's not in every single case, but, um, in the cases that have been, uh, you know, that I have been involved in, um, how I dealt with them and I, and to be very honest with, sometimes I've lashed back sometimes I've, you know, just flew off the cuff. There's other times where I've handled it, um, a different way and the outcome was different, but it definitely does exist, um, all the way to the highest levels. No activism in sports is not Speaker 1: 03:00 New. Some examples include Muhammad Ali taking a stance in the Vietnam war, the famous black power protest by American track athletes at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico city. More recently, the knee taken during the national Anthem by NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who's become an icon in today's movement. Does this moment feel different to you though? Are you surprised by the spontaneity of these teams and the players the yesterday who got involved? Speaker 2: 03:25 No, it doesn't surprise me because a lot of the players were really struggling with coming to play in that bubble initially. And it wasn't because they weren't in shape or they didn't want to play. It was the fact that they were really heartbroken by all these issues that, uh, the community was facing in regards to Georgia, Florida, and Brianna Taylor. And, and now you have mr. Blake, the heart to really prime their heart to come and compete at the highest level for all these athletes, uh, was something that they had figured out not to mention you have COVID-19. And what does that look like? So to see the response, now, I'm very proud of how all of the athletes have United together across all the sports and say, Hey, this, this is not right. It's just inhumane. No matter what the color of your skin is just inhumane, that a person would be treated like this, or someone has to die like this. But what you're seeing is unity, and that we need something to happen. We can't just wear the shirts, take the knees. We need to start seeing action. Speaker 1: 04:31 I want to follow up a little bit with that. I want to play a little bit of what NBA superstar. LeBron James said yesterday. Let's Speaker 2: 04:39 We are like people in America, like man, black man, black kids, we are terrified because you don't know, you have no idea how that cop, that day left the house. You don't know if he won't go side of the bed. You know, if you walk on the wrong side of the bed or maybe you just left the house and that's the is going to be like, that's what it feels like. That's what it feels like. Speaker 1: 05:06 Now does the fact that superstars like LeBron James leading this protest, does that make it easier for other players to join in solidarity? Speaker 2: 05:14 You have someone as prominent with the powerful voice, like a LeBron James and stating this is how he's feeling. This is how he believes the culture is feeling. That's. I think that's really powerful. And so I applaud him in his effort and I can see where he's coming from it. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm a black male and I go for runs in the morning and I can't sit here and lie to you and tell you that I'm not looking over my shoulder when I'm going for a run in my neighborhood. You know? And I don't know if it's going to be a person. I don't know if it's going to be a police officer and please hear my heart. I'm not saying any of the police, not all police officers are bad. So LeBron's point, you don't know where the police officer may be at day. Speaker 2: 05:57 And I think what would help is not to defunding the police is not the right thing to do. What we can do though, is get them real good, help and help so that when they do wake up or if they're having struggles with problems or something's going on in their life, that they have resources that can serve the police and strengthen them. If they are in a situation that would cause them to make a bad decision and a very, very hostile situation, black people, young kids, people of color, Asian, Mexican, nobody wants to go. Nobody wants to walk around and fear from someone who is legally there to protect someone. No one wants to walk around like that. No one wants to have that feeling. But the fact of the matter is you look at all these strings of these things from George, Florida, to Brianna Taylor, to mr. Blake and, and Amar, you know, all these things, you look at these different cases and scenarios and people don't have any narrative, but what they're seeing on, on television, and it's scary, you know, it really is scary. And it's heartbreaking. Speaker 1: 07:05 Finally, I wanted to come back to the bottom line question here. What's the significance of the sports world coming together like this? Do you think this boycott will lead to change? Speaker 2: 07:15 I think it will definitely push the needle towards change. I honestly believe that people Revere sports figures, they're there they're modern day heroes to a lot of people and sports figures have access to resources that maybe the common person may not have. And that includes the owners as well. They have access to people that know how to change. The laws, know how to talk to the right people. And if the owners and the athletes are all on the same page, trying to seek healthy change to prevent something like this from happening again, in order for us to really seek change, we have to really be band United. And that's from the owner all the way down. So to see this right here, I think will push the needle a lot faster and a lot stronger towards change and, and to help really write what change should look like, uh, how it should be healthy longterm. Um, not only for, uh, the African American community, but for communities in general, as well as police officers. You know what that looks like. So I definitely believe them using their voice across all sports in this moment can push the needle towards change. Speaker 1: 08:27 I'd been speaking with pastor Greg Hendricks of the rock church, East County, and he's a former professional basketball player and NBA assistant coach. Thanks very much for joining us. Thank you, Mark.

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Professional sports players in the NBA, MLB, NFL, WNBA, and MLS protested the police shooting of Kenosha, Wis., resident Jacob Blake. The players refused to play to raise social justice awareness.
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