Many of you woke up to the news that the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted today’s potentially series-clinching game versus the Orlando Magic. In turn, every other playoff game scheduled for today was postponed. The NBA’s official press release states that “Game 5 of each series (today) will be rescheduled.” That would be good news on any other day. Today, it seems irrelevant.
Watching team staff pulling name tags and gathering draped towels from players’ designated chairs felt both familiar and surreal. We’ve seen this movie before. Regular season games were already cancelled for four damn months because of Covid-19. Then came the NBA’s restart. Although games have been hit or miss, for the most part they’ve been pretty good (albeit a bit sloppier than usual). At the very least, they’ve provided a glimmer of hope that some sense of normalcy was lurking just around the corner. But the games have been taken away yet again and the uncertainty has returned.
The Bucks boycotted in protest for the shooting of Jacob Blake in the team’s home state of Wisconsin. Blake – an African-American – was shot seven times in the back by police officers while his kids watched from the family car. Thankfully, Blake didn’t die. But the fact that he is alive doesn’t make this event any less horrific. It simply highlights the systemic racial divide that has pervaded American society for centuries. I didn’t understand the enormity of this issue until I came to live in the US. The wounds caused by racism cut deep and the players’ decision to boycott has shone a spotlight globally on an equally deep-seated anger. If just for that, they’ve earned a W without ever stepping onto the court.
“Who cares?” you may say. “None of that concerns us. We have our own problems here in the Philippines.” Maybe. But the parallelisms between the US and our country are quite clear. We have similar issues not driven by race but by class: between the uncaring powerful and the powerless; between abusive authority and tired masses; between those who twist the rules to perpetuate societal imbalances and those who can do nothing about it. Just like the US, we are a nation divided and it’s painful to see, especially during this pandemic when many of our countrymen are struggling big time.
Only a handful possess the global platform that the NBA does and many of us aren’t capable of enacting systemic change in our country. But in our own ways, we are definitely called to do what we can to make the world a better place. I get it. It’s hard, especially now. These are unprecedented times and we are all navigating uncharted waters. Some of us have found a way to keep moving forward, some are stuck, while some can barely manage to keep their heads above water. And some (like me) are really, really tired. Believe me, I get it.
Maybe we can’t make grand statements like the NBA players did today. But at the very least, we should always try to do good in this world, whatever state we find ourselves in.
If you’re strong, good for you. Go and make a difference.
If you’re exhausted, rest and live to fight another day (puwedeng mapagod, bawal sumuko).
If you have surplus, share.
If your family has pressing needs, focus on them.
If you have talents, sing, or speak, or write, or paint, or dance.
If you have skills, lend a helping hand.
And for God’s sake, please stop the hatred, the violence, the pettiness, the lying, the stealing, the insults. Instead, be kind and respectful. And once you are able, continue the fight for justice and the common good.
I’m sorry. My first post for Basketball Exchange and it’s only marginally related to the game. What’s more, I may not even get another chance to write because who knows if the restart will — uhm — restart again? But with everything going on now, cancelling the season may actually be what’s best. And if the playoffs do return, remember that it is entirely possible to enjoy the games with a passion and simultaneously accept the fact that there is much more to life than basketball.