The world of sport does not remain silent

The moment of silence didn’t last long this time. Someone in the crowd at TD Garden in Boston interrupted him, shouting, “Do something! “, according to reporters in the arena on Friday evening. Then others shouted too.

When the scoreboard displayed a message urging fans to “SUPPORT COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS” and “CONTACT YOUR US SENATORS,” the masses roared, as did crowds in San Francisco and Miami l had done when seeing similar messages in other NBA games after Robb Elementary. School massacre in Uvalde.

In terms of bold statements, it wasn’t much. But it was something, at least, and with their cheers, it was as if the fans were shouting “Finally!” As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr so eloquently noted, hours after the deaths of 19 students and two teachers on Tuesday, people are tired of empty condolences and empty platitudes.

Not so long ago, NBA teams would have been terrified of posting anything tangential to politics on their Jumbotrons. A Major League Baseball coach reportedly ordered Barry Bonds to quit rather than publicly announce his intention to skip the national anthem, as Gabe Kapler of the Giants did this week. And MLB owners would have had their public relations teams fired for spending an entire game devoting their Twitter accounts to facts about gun violence, as the Yankees and Rays did on Thursday night.

But how can there be harmless middle ground on mass shootings in supermarkets, in places of worship, in fourth grade classrooms? When a coach like Arthur Smith of the Falcons tries to please everyone by blaming a “broken on both sides” process, which two sides is he talking about? What exactly is the ‘other side’ when it comes to outrage against Uvalde?

“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” Howard Zinn, the late historian and World War II veteran, said years ago, and now people who run sports teams are beginning to understand what he wanted to say. The train takes us all somewhere, and those who sit around and do nothing essentially decide to make the journey.

Kapler, for his part, is not going to do that anymore. The former Texas Rangers outfielder and current Giants manager wrote a blog post this week explaining that he “felt like a coward” for not protesting “the lack of delivery on the promise of what our national anthem stands for. ” after the shooting of Uvalde, and he told reporters, he will not take the field for the anthem “until he feels better in the direction of our country”.

Kapler echoed many of the sentiments expressed by Kerr, the former Spurs guard whose father was shot in 1984 and whose emotional pre-game monologue about gun violence last Tuesday dominated social media feeds and aired on newscasts across the country.

It also prompted the predictable and hypocritical “What about Chicago?” and “What about China?” answers from those who aren’t really interested in discussing where the guns in Chicago were bought in the first place, or why sports leagues have more of an obligation to stay out of China than companies like Boeing or General Motors.

Kerr, to his credit, admitted to botching his answers on the NBA’s response to human rights abuses in China. Two summers ago, during an appearance on the ‘Political Breakdown’ podcast, he admitted he sounded like ‘a deer in the headlights’ when he hesitated to answer a question about the issue the first time around. .

“I handled it horribly,” Kerr said. “I regret my response to date. I kind of gave it “no comment” and then said something else. It was really embarrassing.”

Now, it would be equally embarrassing if coaches, players, teams, and leagues tried to avoid offending anyone by talking about gun laws. When Smith attempted that while addressing the Falcons press contingent on Friday, he made sure to insist that he “doesn’t care about your politics” before suggesting “a compromise solution to keep military-grade assault weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill”. .”

Well, if this is considered a “compromise”, that says a lot about the debate. And as this relentless train of sadness continues to move, no one — and no franchise — is neutral.

Silent or not.

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