Almost to a team, this week’s conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is seen as a mandate to double down on social justice activism. USA Today said the verdict was centuries in the making. Sports Illustrated saw the world breathing a sigh of relief.
Professional teams and athletes across the nation tweeted about the verdict. The most prevalent themes were justice, police reform and the need for more social justice activism. The latter being the central cause for America’s rapidly dwindling approval of politically plagued pro sports.
Many sports media are merely listing the flood of tweets. Mike Freeman, of USA Today, teed off against white America:
What we're used to, what's happened so many times in the past, across days, years and centuries, is the cop who killed an unarmed Black man walked free.
The examples are numerous; a tortuous, horrific Groundhog Day of state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies, followed by juries letting the perpetrators walk. Names like King and Till and Trayvon.
It should be noted that of the names Freeman mentioned, only Rodney King was the victim of "state-sanctioned violence," Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin were killed by civilians.
The guilty verdict in the murder trial of Chauvin was different, Freeman wrote. “For once, there was justice, and it came in part thanks to a sports universe that united to fight for it.” This kind of racial justice may not be seen again in your lifetime, Freeman exaggerated.
James Salvador wrote for Sports Illustrated that “the world breathed a sigh of relief” over the verdict. No bias there!
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said he’s relieved, but not hopeful yet. “This is the only just outcome.”
San Antonio Spurs coach and SJW Greg Popovich said, "I think it's a time to understand that was a victory in a war that's got to continue to be waged in the sense of demanding equality and justice and rights -- because it hasn't happened yet."
The NBA’s tweet called the Chauvin trial a “flashpoint for how we look at race and justice" but said there was "much work to be done" vowing to "redouble" efforts for changes in policing and criminal justice. The WNBA and its Social Justice Council announced plans to fight “systemic racism.”
The Phoenix basketball teams, the Suns and Mercury, jointly tweeted “our work as shepherds of social and racial justice never ends.” Karl-Anthony Towns, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, called the Chauvin verdict "the reform this country needs."
Brooklyn Nets Coach Steve Nash said social justice movements are “creating an impact” and providing a better future for children. He did not have confidence that the verdict would serve justice, but hopes this type of verdict will “be the norm.”
The WNBA’s Seattle Storm issued a stern tweet calling for law enforcement officers everywhere to be held accountable for “all their decisions.”
Still reeling from their All-Star Game blunder, Major League Baseball and the players union vowed to continue advancing social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion. Houston Astros Manager Dusty Baker (in photo above) overlooked America’s plague of inner-city killings and suggested the guilty verdict will “help us heal and we’ll cease with the violence.”
The NFL also put out a statement: "We must continue to help move our society toward a more equal and just tomorrow" and they "remain committed to do the important work needed to make positive change in our society" while the Las Vegas Raiders tweeted: "I CAN BREATHE 4-20-21."
Finally, More Than A Vote, an organization of Black athletes and artists that started up last year to help elect Democrats, made this demand: “We need more than a verdict. We need Black lives to matter before they're gone."