Wednesday marked a monumental day in the sports world as players across various leagues, including NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL and WNBA decided not to play their games as a protest, demanding justice after Jacob Blake was shot seven times by a police officer in Wisconsin.
Among the MLB teams that participated were the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, who had their game postponed before making it up in a doubleheader on Thursday.
The Dodgers have always been an advocate for racial justice, starting with helping Jackie Robinson break MLB’s color barrier. Led by their only African-American player on the current roster, Mookie Betts, the Dodgers thought it was best to make a statement by not playing for a night to shift the focus onto the social issues plaguing the country.
While sitting out a game was their method of making a statement, and many other teams also did the same on Wednesday and Thursday, there also must be action to follow to continue taking positive steps forward.
The Players Alliance, a group of current and former Black players focused on issues of equality in MLB and the community, began that action as they announced all of their players will be donating their salaries from Thursday and Friday’s games to support efforts to “combat racial equality and aid the Black families and communities deeply affected in the wake of recent events.”
Friday will be recognized as Jackie Robinson Day in MLB where players across the league will wear No. 42 jerseys to celebrating him breaking the color barrier as a member of the Dodgers.
It will be Betts’ first Jackie Robinson Day with the Dodgers, so he will get the chance to wear Robinson’s jersey for the first time while also donating his salary to a cause he is passionate about.
Jackie Robinson Day historically is every April 15 to coincide with his MLB debut, but it was re-scheduled this season in response to the schedule being delayed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Betts appreciative of teammates and organization for having his back
While Betts was the driving force in the Dodgers deciding not to play on Wednesday, his teammates were right there with him in sitting out.
Many other organizations went on to play their games while various Black players sat out, so Betts was appreciative of his teammates and the organization backing his decision.
“Hopefully it’s the first step to change,” he said. “I know for me, I was already right with everybody in the clubhouse but now I know everybody has my back even more than I already thought, means a lot. I’ll always remember this day and this team just having my back. This organization has been nothing but amazing.”
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