Four years after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kicked off a wave of athlete protests against systematic racial injustice by sitting during the national anthem in a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, professional athletes from several sports made their boldest statement yet, by simply refusing to play.
It was the Milwaukee Bucks that took the first step by deciding to sit out their playoff game against the Orlando Magic in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin earlier this week. Several teams from the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer followed the Bucks’ lead and joined the walkout that caused all of Wednesday night’s NBA fixtures to be cancelled.
Having repeatedly kneeled in protest against racial injustice and spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, several athletes vented their frustration over a lack of progress following Sunday’s shooting in Kenosha, eventually leading to Wednesday’s unprecedented events.Ever since Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016, a debate had raged in the U.S. over whether or not the silent protests by countless athletes is appropriate or disrespectful.
As a recent poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of CBS News shows, the country is still divided on the issue, with 58 percent of U.S. adults saying that kneeling during the anthem is an acceptable form of protest and 42 percent thinking it’s not acceptable. As the following chart shows there’s an age gap and a partisan divide in how the protests are viewed. While young Americans and Democrats overwhelmingly support the protesting athletes, older Americans and Republicans widely oppose the protests.