The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
The Impact of Technological Innovations on Sports Betting in Colorado: A Primer
The Impact of Technological Innovations on Sports Betting in Colorado: A Primer
April 18, 2024

In the sports betting domain, Colorado stands as a unique arena where technological advancements have significantly reshaped the landscape. As...

Pro teams’ boycott turns athletics into activism

In 1961, Bill Russell — National Basketball Association Hall of Famer and Celtics legend — led a boycott against an NBA exhibition game after the team’s Black players were refused entry to a bar in Indiana and a hotel coffee shop in Kentucky. Russell was joined by teammates Sam Jones and Satch Sanders in their refusal to play.

It has been almost 60 years since Russell’s stand against racial inequality, and on Aug. 26 the NBA echoed his sentiment by stopping all play after Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.


“Sports should not be an escape from current social issues, rather they should be a platform to elevate athletes and their push for equality.”

After the NBA halted all games, the Women’s NBA, Major League Soccer and certain teams in Major League Baseball followed suit. The call for racial equality was echoed all throughout the sporting world as the National Hockey League followed suit a day later.

Certain NFL teams suspended all practices in solidarity with the halting of other major professional sports in America. The stoppage of professional play and sports activities notably comes four years to the day of Colin Kaepernick first taking a knee during the national anthem in protest against police brutality.

“Sports are like the reward of a functioning society,” said Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals baseball team, and although this was a comment on the COVID-19 pandemic and the MLB’s struggles with containment, it rings true now more than ever.

Sports must come second to athlete empowerment and safety, but the relationship between sport and player, between a fan’s want for competition and an athlete’s well-being, is an obstacle that often illustrates the blatant disregard for players as anything other than entertainers.

The lack of support athletes face as soon as they step off the court is not anything new. In 2018, LeBron James was told to “Shut up and dribble” by Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host, after he made comments about President Donald Trump’s lack of ability to “understand the people.”

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have agreed to resume play and have set forth new initiatives “to push for meaningful and sustainable change,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said in a joint statement, according to ESPN.

Franchise owners will work with local government officials to turn NBA arenas into voting locations for the 2020 election. A social justice coalition with representation from players, coaches and governors will also be developed immediately.

As a fan, it is great to see such prominent athletes using their voices, but perhaps even better is seeing the organizations back their athletes as the NBA has done.

The NBA has now established itself as the blueprint for player support throughout a professional organization. It has created an environment where players feel listened to and empowered to speak out against racial injustices, which in turn has resulted in players continuing to play.


After first weathering COVID-19 scares and now the NBA boycott, sports fans are likely relieved that competition will be continuing, but it is imperative that fans understand the importance of athletes choosing to play during these times.

Live professional sports are heavily desired by the American public because people are looking to their resurgence as an escape from reality. If escapism trumps accountability and awareness, we do not deserve sports.

The idea of escapism is exactly what players around the world are looking to change. Sports should not be an escape from current social issues; rather, they should be a platform to elevate athletes and their push for equality.

There is no one right way for athletes and sporting organizations to tackle these massive institutional issues, and it only makes things harder that the battle for racial equality is now being fought in a worldwide pandemic.

If fans look to educate themselves on the reasons behind these boycotts, it may help to establish a better dialogue and better awareness throughout the sports industry.

Scott Nies can be reached at or on Twitter @scott_nies98.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *