WNBA players and Naomi Osaka go on strike for Jacob Blake

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women take the stage at the RNC, Vanessa Pappas becomes interim CEO of TikTok, and female athletes go on strike. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Athletes on strike. The sports world came to a halt last night; the bubbles professional leagues had built figuratively burst. The mass stoppage wasn’t due to the coronavirus, but outrage over another pandemic, that of racial injustice, politic brutality, and the disregard for Black lives.

It started with the Milwaukee Bucks, who decided that their NBA playoff game could not go on as their home state grappled with the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisc., of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man accompanied by his children. Blake, who was shot in the back seven times, remains in critical condition.

More NBA, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer teams joined in the strike, as did the six teams in the WNBA, a league that has led professional sports’ support of Black Lives Matter for months now, even before the police killing of George Floyd in May reignited BLM protests.

“What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change,” Atlanta Dream forward Elizabeth Williams said in a statement. “These moments are why it’s important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts and connect the dots from what we say to what we do.”

Tennis star Naomi Osaka also took up the strike, saying she would not play in a semifinal match of the Western & Southern Open that was scheduled for today.

“Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman,” she wrote on social media Wednesday night. “[A]s a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”

Athletes for months have tried to call attention to the crisis of racial injustice and police brutality in a restrained manner, using pointed statements and national anthem kneeling and t-shirt tributes. But the strike goes a step further. It separates entertainment from their messaging; what’s left is an exasperated plea for humanity.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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