This week, sports stars across a range of disciplines began refusing to take part in scheduled games.
From tennis to baseball, high-profile athletes said they were taking protest action in the wake of the shooting of 29 year-old Jacob Blake by Kenosha police.
One of the most impactful demonstrations has been by players in the NBA, where there is a high concentration of Black talent.
Starting with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to appear for a playoff game against Orlando Magic on Wednesday, several other teams followed suit, including the LA Lakers, who basketball legend LeBron James currently plays for.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT— LeBron James (@LeBron James) 1598474247
At first the action was referred to as a commonly “boycott”, even by the teams involved.
Sources: The Lakers and Clippers have voted to boycott the NBA season. Most other teams voted to continue. LeBron J… https://t.co/3RQ5g5mlrn— Shams Charania (@Shams Charania) 1598495874
But now legal experts want people to know that’s not quite accurate.
In fact, the players are currently on strike.
US police officers shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man, 7 times in the back – in full view of his young children… https://t.co/ImyAvLK1K9— Zarah Sultana MP (@Zarah Sultana MP) 1598537087
Speaking to the LA Times, Joseph Longo, a sports law professor, attorney and MLB agent, said he would call the action “wildcat strikes”.
In layman’s terms, a boycott is an organised effort to withdraw financial support from something in order to achieve change of some sort, like the bus boycotts of the civil rights movement.
But a strike is an employee withholding labour.
Thomas Lenz, a law lecturer at USC also told the LA Times the NBA action fitted the definition of a strike.
“When employees decide to withhold their services … that is technically strike activity,” he said.
People on social media are keen for others to know the difference.
withholding your cash is a boycott, withholding your labor is a strike, thank you and have a nice day— Sarah Jones (@Sarah Jones) 1598473972
This is because the terms have different significance.
It’s a strike, not a boycott. Words have meaning.— Franklin Leonard (@Franklin Leonard) 1598475759
A strike shows the economic power of collective solidarity against bosses.
it honestly is really ~on brand~ for the united states to call a massive strike a boycott? like people are only cap… https://t.co/FYe7dJuYjh— 𝙇𝘿 (@𝙇𝘿) 1598502466
Especially in aid of racial justice.
I've been calling what the Milwaukee Bucks are doing a "boycott." I'm now convinced that the proper terminology is… https://t.co/vtzG90Ktl8— Dave Zirin (@Dave Zirin) 1598475520
So now you know.
Fans boycott. Players strike.— Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson) 1598474585