During the early days of the coronavirus crisis, Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle remarked that “sports are like the reward of a functioning society.” It only takes a cursory look around the nation and to see the continuous shooting of Black citizens by police officers, the appalling violence with which they respond to protesters, the hatred being spewed at the Republican National Convention and through the right-wing media machine every night to see that we are far from a “functioning society.”
In the wake of the latest police atrocity, America’s athletes themselves have decided that we do not deserve sports.
Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team made the unprecedented decision to go on a wildcat strike and refused to play their scheduled Game 5 of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police. They were soon joined by the rest of the remaining playoff teams and are now debating whether or not to play out the rest of the season at all.
The strike soon spread to other sports as well. The WNBA canceled its games and held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening, several Major League Soccer matches were canceled on Thursday and four NFL teams elected to not hold Thursday practice and instead discuss the issue of racial justice in America.
This historic display of solidarity was inevitably met with derision from the Trump administration. The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke with CNBC this morning and dismissed the strike as just “taking the night off of work,” jabbing the players for being “fortunate enough” that they are rich enough to do so.
This is disgusting for a whole host of reasons.
His remarks entirely — and clearly deliberately — miss the point that the players are making with their strike. The idea that Jared Kushner, who was born into a family of incredible wealth and has done nothing but squander it in ill-conceived and disastrous real estate ventures, should be criticizing anyone about their work ethic is laughable.
Finally, it’s clear from his words that he, who has never worked an honest day in his life, thinks that it is unacceptable for anyone else to be paid enough that they can afford to take the night off without facing any financial consequences.
"The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they're able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially," says White House senior advisor Jared Kushner on the NBA player boycotts last night. pic.twitter.com/nHlRBNIzaf
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) August 27, 2020
Not content with that, Kushner continued his condescending complaining about the NBA in an interview with POLITICO, saying he would reach out to Lakers superstar LeBron James and asked them to start moving into “concrete solutions that are productive.”
Jared Kushner says he'll reach out to @KingJames today.
"What I'd love to see from the players in the NBA–again they have the luxury of taking a night off from work, most Americans don't…I'd like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive." @politico
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) August 27, 2020
It is absolutely infuriating to hear Kushner talk about “productive solutions” when his deliberate, malicious mismanagement of the coronavirus testing program allowed the virus to spread like wildfire across the country and kill nearly 200,000 people.
Given the fury that Lebron James has been expressing over the past few days, we’d be very surprised if James accepts the outreach from an openly white supremacist Trump administration — but oh, to be a fly on the wall for that phone call!
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.