THERE was a demonstration recently of unity. Unity against violence, oppression and interference in the judicial process.

But is sport and sporting arenas appropriate places for such demonstrations? Should athletes stick to being athletes, not politicians?

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat knelt for the national anthem in their NBA game recently, citing playing “with a heavy heart” after pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The violence was ignited by an earlier decision by a Wisconsin prosecutor not to charge a police officer who last year shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, which left him paralysed.

Wednesday’s scene from the Capitol, where a mob delayed Congress from certifying the results of November’s election and paving the way for President-elect Joe Biden to be sworn in later this month, was widely discussed around the NBA before games occurred that night.

Pro-Trump supporters had sought to disrupt if not extinguish Congress’ confirmation of the winner of the recent acrimonious US election. They forced their way though barricades, breaking windows, climbing on rafters, ripping down US flags and occupying the Senate chamber.

Trump had earlier urged demonstrators to march on the Capitol in a bid to overturn the election result and the ensuing riot left four people dead.

Some of the violence must be attributed to his leadership, or lack of it. He was accused by both Democrats and Republicans of “inciting a coup.”

Many spoke at Wednesday’s NBA games about the contrast between the suppression of Black Lives Matter protests last year and the reaction of authorities in Washington DC on Wednesday.

Virtually all Boston and Miami players knelt as the national anthem was played before the Celtics’ 107-105 win and said they would play to try “to bring joy into people’s lives”

Clearly, the Heat and Celtics took great umbrage at the situation, with discussions surrounding cancelling the game as a joint protest.

In the end, both teams agreed: “2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.”

“They’ve operated in a win-at-all-costs attitude,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Trump’s administration. “I don’t know, our sports world is a lot less important, obviously. But I’ve always thought if you operated with a win-at-all-costs attitude, it’s going to be a pretty unfulfilling ending. And in this situation, a disgraceful ending. So, I’m looking forward to two weeks from now, as I know a lot of other people are, too.”

“But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America.”

President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

Both teams have left themselves open to penalties and sanctions from the NBA for their action of kneeling.

The NBA has for years has expected players and coaches to stand for the national anthem. That rule was relaxed last year when the season resumed at the bubble inside Walt Disney World in Central Florida, as part of the statements demanding societal change that the league made and encouraged from teams and players.

“I’m 59 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said Wednesday, when asked for his reaction to the events in Washington. “Our country, we’re being laughed at all over the world. From the way that we’ve handled the pandemic to this … it’s a sad day for everybody.”

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, whose team lead the Eastern Conference after beating the Washington Wizards 141-136, said: “It’s pretty disturbing and sad. I keep hearing, ‘This is an attack on democracy.’ It’s not. Democracy will prevail. It always does.

“Can you imagine today, if those were all black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened? That, to me, is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see.”

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, whose team were beaten 102-94 by the Charlotte Hornets, said: “We all understand that there would be guns ablaze and fires ablaze right now if there were black people protesting.”

It seems the death of four people at the scene of the incursion is inconsequential. The debate has been whether more lives would have been lost, had they been black, or from the BLM movement.

This is now the bizarre state of civil unrest and political divisiveness in the United States. A new state of normal that President-elect Joe Biden hopes to change in 2021 and beyond.

For the record, Vice President Pence declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election after Congress counted the electoral votes after the day of violence on Capitol Hill.

Pence said, “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”

Prophetic words, but for now, hollow.

Clearly, the world of sport is not immune to social injustices and political agendas. Nor are the players, officials, coaches and management staff.

Nor the supporters, their families, children and communities. All part of a greater society, whose values are proving to be elusive, fluid.

At times, intangible.

The time has long gone when people can attend sporting events purely to enjoy the game and support their team.

If political correctness abounds, then Ludo Aequitas offers a peaceful alternative for demonstrating against political and social unrest.

The “Ludo Creed” and the “Do The Ludo” behaviour of equality and unity.

Is the world ready for a peaceful resolution, a compromise between extremists, or will rage and violence prevail?


Image via Entertainment Tonight

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