The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players’ association announced a three-point plan to promote social justice and racial equality, including turning NBA arenas into polling locations.
According to a release by the NBA on Twitter, in every city where a league franchise owns and controls its arena, team officials will work with local election officials to convert the area into a polling location for the 2020 general election.
This will “allow for safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to the coronavirus,” the statement said. If the arena cannot be used as a polling location, the team will work with election officials to find another elections-related use for the arena.
Additionally, the NBA and its players will create a social justice coalition made up of players, coaches, and league governors that will focus on a broad range of issues including voting access, promoting civic engagement, and criminal justice reform.
The NBA will also work with players and network partners to create advertising spots in each NBA playoff game dedicated to promoting civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.
The initiatives were agreed to Thursday night after representatives from the NBA and the players’ association met to discuss solutions.
The Milwaukee Bucks conducted a wildcat boycott of its playoff game Wednesday after Jacob Blake, a Black man and father was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer as he walked toward his car. After the Bucks refused to take the court for their game, players from other games Wednesday agreed to take the same action.
Several games in MLB and MLS have also been canceled in recent days. The NHL did not postpone its games Wednesday, but hasn’t played since at the request of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
Players have demanded league officials and owners speak up about the racial injustices happening across the country recently. Before the NBA restarted its season, there was a heated debate among players whether to return.
There were a group of players who felt returning to finish the season would step on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests going on across the country. Before committing to finishing the season, Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, allowed players to wear slogans on their jerseys promoting unity and painted the phrase Black Lives Matter on the courts, something not every owner was OK with.
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