Why it's wrong to say players are 'boycotting' the NBA to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake

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.

At first the action was referred to as a commonly “boycott”, even by the teams involved.

But now legal experts want people to know that’s not quite accurate.

In fact, the players are currently on strike.

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.

This is because the terms have different significance.

A strike shows the economic power of collective solidarity against bosses.

Especially in aid of racial justice.

So now you know.


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