In the wake of the shooting on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisc., in which police officers shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first-round NBA playoff series on Wednesday, setting off a chain reaction of boycotts and protests in sports across the country.
After seeing the NBA postponing its playoffs, L.A. Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts decided he too would sit out his game Wednesday night against the Giants in San Francisco. After meeting as a team, the rest of the Dodgers decided they also would not play Wednesday.
Betts told the media that his reason for sitting out was to bring more attention to police brutality in the wake of the Blake shooting (Blake survived the shooting but is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down).
“For me, no matter what, I wasn’t going to play tonight,” Betts said. “There’s a lot going on in the world and change needs to be made. I have to use my platform to at least get the ball rolling. I talked to my teammates and told them how I felt, and they all were by my side.”
Betts was joined by manager Dave Roberts in speaking with the media, as well as pitchers Clayton Kershaw, who was supposed to start the game, and Kenley Jansen.
“As a white player on this team, it’s how can we show support? What’s something tangible that we can do to help our Black brothers on this team?” Kershaw said. “Once Mookie said that he wasn’t going to play that really started our conversation as a team of what we can do to support that. We felt the best thing to do was to support that in not playing.”
Kershaw’s motivation to support his teammates stems from his relationship with Christ. He has long spoken openly about his faith, and on Wednesday night, he posted a message on Instagram summing up Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30-31.
“Love God. Love others. Simple as that,” Kershaw wrote.
The Dodgers and Giants are expected to play a doubleheader Thursday, but Wednesday was about making a statement.
“Black people have been fighting this fight for centuries,” Roberts said. “For the white brothers to come in and support the Black men in this game is much more powerful.”
Kershaw said loving God and loving others comes before baseball.
“Tonight is about taking a stand right where I need to be — next to my teammate and coaches,” Kershaw wrote. “Love God, love my teammates. Baseball comes after that.”
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