A number of professional sports leagues around the country postponed games after players made it clear that they would walk out in protest of continued police violence against the African-American community. While the NFL isn’t currently in-season, a number of teams did cancel or postpone practices, and dialogue is happening in just about every building.
Earlier today, Ben Roethlisberger was asked about how the Pittsburgh Steelers were handling the current social climate as an organization. “We just got done having the first set of team meetings, and then we had some league-mandated stuff to talk about”, he said.
“Coach Tomlin address with the team briefly about some of the stuff that’s going on. I don’t know that the practice was” in jeopardy of being cancelled, he want on. “It was never like we voted on anything. It just, we anticipate going out to practice at normal time. We have unique days today and tomorrow with kind of a night-before-the-game-type situations with mock games and stuff tomorrow. As of now, we’re all moving ahead as scheduled”.
With the NBA players earlier today voting in favor of play resuming, it’s unlikely that this particular playing boycott is going to go any further anyway, but teams and their players will still be looking for ways to respond, whether as private citizens or professionals, which is what the conversations taking place today is about.
As for the Steelers, on the field, it’s business as usual, and without the benefit of the preseason, they are doing their best to accommodate the plans to the circumstances, setting up a scrimmage game for the end of this week.
Earlier in the week, Tomlin has referred to this time multiple times as a ‘lean-in’ week, a time for players to step up and begin separating themselves, and no doubt this scrimmage was part of what he was referencing with that remark.
At least a couple of players on the team have used social media in one way or another to comment on the most recent shootings, of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by an officer, and of the multiple fatalities at the hands of a 17-year-old member of a militia from out of state in Kenosha just the other night. Rookie Chase Claypool, for example, shared a text from his father, simply telling him to drive carefully and not to speed to avoid getting pulled over.
Many have questioned the efficacy of players boycotting the games. No doubt many have their own reasons. One that I saw remarked that ‘you’re not listening to us, so now you’re not going to see us’. Basically, if you’re not willing to listen to our voices, and what’s important to us, then we’re not going to be here for your entertainment either until you start hearing what we’re saying.