To boycott or not to boycott, that is the pressing question facing NBA players as racial (and many other) injustices continues to plague America on a daily basis.
Saying their names – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake – is simply not enough to draw attention to the craziness happening in the streets of the country.
Last night, the NBA players decided to boycott their playoff games. Rightfully so. And as a result, drew some attention to the issues at hand – police brutality, income inequality, guns, voting rights, health care, education, and on and on and on.
A one or two game boycott is great. It DOES draw attention to these issues. But does it have any real value and make any real difference? I contend that in the long run, it does not. And this is what many of the players are grappling with as well. Do you use your massive platform as players – while playing – to show solidarity, raise awareness, give to worth causes, and help enact change? Sure, that will do something. But I think something more radical is needed to actually move the needle.
Enter, “Amazing Grace and Chuck”.
I’m sure NONE of you have heard of this movie. But, “Amazing Grace and Chuck” is a 1987 film starring NBA all-star Alex English and is about a young boy named Chuck who refuses to keep playing baseball until the world does something about nuclear weapons. Amazing Grace (English) is the star of the Boston Celtics in the movie and decides to join Chuck in boycotting basketball. This snowballs into more NBA players, and then baseball players, and then NFL players, until all sports are basically canceled until the governments of the world decide to rid themselves of nukes.
Now think for a moment. If Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounpo, James Harden, and others said they’re not playing another game until real action takes place in America for police reform, voting reform, education reform, gun reform, et al. does that get every player in the NBA to join in? Does that then feed into the NFL where Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and others unite to boycott football? If Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge boycotted baseball, does the rest of the league fold under the pressure?
And if all sports in America ends – does this force owners, legislators, and the public to take a serious look and make real change? I contend that it does.
So, as dumb as the 1987 movie is, the NBA players are in a unique position to go full “Amazing Grace and Chuck”, and probably make a much bigger dent than simply boycotting a couple of games with some empty promises from their owners and league officials.
For the first time in history, players have real leverage. It’s time to use it.