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August 27, 2020

NBA playoff and other pro sports called off in protest of racial injustice

The court and benches are empty of players and coaches at the scheduled start of an NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Photo credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY


Directions: Read the article NBA playoff games called off amid player protest, reverberates through other leagues. Make sure you know the basic facts of the story by filling in the Journalists’ 5Ws and answering the rest of the questions.


  • All three NBA playoff games on Wednesday were postponed based on players’ decisions to boycott racial injustice.
  • The decision follows a refusal to play by the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are the NBA team that plays close to the city of Kenosha, where unrest and protests in recent days have followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed 29-year-old Black man.
  • Blake is a father of four young children, three of whom witnessed the shooting. He is recovering in the hospital and is paralyzed from seven gunshot wounds after he tried to break up a fight, according to his lawyer.
  • WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer quickly followed suit with teams calling off games this week while a few others pushed for the season to end immediately.
  • During the strike, NBA players and owners met separately to discuss next steps for the league. Players decided to continue the playoffs, but it is not yet clear what concessions were made by management for this to occur.

Journalists’ FIVE W’s Plus an H:

  • Who:
  • What:
  • Where:
  • When:
  • Why:
  • How:

Focus question: Do you agree with the decision by professional athletes to boycott games in protest against police brutality and racism? Why or why not?

Historical context: What are a few other examples from history of athletes taking a stand against racial injustice? If you are stuck, check out the extension activity below.

Media literacy:

  1. Look up some sports news sites, i.e. ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, etc. Do you see any differences or similarities between the way these outlets covered the NBA story and the Associated Press’ article you read above? Explain.
  2. A photograph says a 1000 words is a popular if not cliched expression. How could this saying apply to this photo of WNBA players?
After the WNBA announcement of the postponed games for the evening, the Washington Mystics each wear white T-shirts with seven bullets on the back protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police at Feld Entertainment Center on August 26, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images



1. Check out this NewsHour EXTRA lesson on U.S. Women’s Soccer and the fight for equal pay. Conduct a quick Google search as to where things stand now. What did you find? What are some differences and similarities between the NBA players’ boycott and the action taken by U.S. Women’s Soccer players?

2. Dig deeper: Watch The Young Turks video below about Australian Olympian Peter Norman’s role on the podium alongside Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968.

  • How did Norman demonstrate empathy towards Smith and Carlos?
  • What repercussions did Norman experience as a result of his show of solidarity with Smith and Carlos?
  • Why do you think Norman’s story is little known?
  • What would you do if you were in Norman’s position? Would you have taken the pardon? Why or why not?

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