NFL May Follow NBA On Games Boycott

Rows of american football balls in NFL Experience in Times Square, New York,


It has been suggested that NFL players may follow the NBA’s lead by boycotting upcoming games in an act of protest against recent events in the US.

NBA players took a stand against police brutality and racial inequality in the last week of August by refusing to play all three playoff games set to kick off on 27 August 2020. The Milwaukee Bucks first refused to join the court with Orlando Magic at 1pm. The Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers games were also postponed shortly afterward.

This stand came after the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, by police officers. The Milwaukee Bucks, who have been vocal in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, issued a statement calling for justice for Blake. They are calling for reform within the criminal justice system and legalisation to increase police accountability and support the prevention of police brutality.

Following this, Major League Soccer have postponed five of their games. This includes LA Galaxy vs Seattle, Miami vs Atlanta, Dallas vs Colorado, Salt Lake vs LAFC, and San Jose vs Portland.

On Friday 28 August, NBA and NBPA issued a joint statement regarding the resumption of playoffs. They stated that players and other interested parties had agreed to resume games the following day (Saturday) with the understanding that a social justice coalition will be established with immediate effect. This coalition aimed to tackle a number of issues, including criminal justice reform and access to voting.

What other effects may this boycott have?

A games boycott would also have a knock-on effect for other industries. The playoffs were expected to attract large crowds, but the boycott of NBA games impacted the gambling industry by disrupting betting lines, making the sport betting climate uncertain. After the announcement of the postponement of games, sportsbooks across the country had to refund, void and alter all the NBA bets and surely will be dealing with the effects of this for a while.

Oddsmakers feel very uncertain of the future of all bets for the rest of the season, with more teams and players in other major leagues like NFL considering not to play their scheduled games. This comes in a time where sports betting seemed to be recovering after the pause on all sports due to the pandemic, and now have showed to have a big impact not only on sports but also on the sports betting industry.

This boycott will also mean rescheduling broadcasts and will have an impact on the scheduling of games across the whole season.

The question is… will the NFL follow their lead and use the postponement of games to protest against troubling current events? 

The first games are set to kick off on Thursday 10 September, but as changes to other recent sporting events have shown, plans can be disrupted at the very last minute.

The upcoming NFL season is set to be one of the most watched sporting events of the year. However, doubts have been cast over whether the upcoming Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans game will actually take place.

Due to the size of the league, NFL players have a much bigger platform to share their stance compared to the NBA’s and Major League Soccer’s. This is an important issue for the league to respond to, with around 70% of NFL players being black.

Players have been sharing their support for the NBA games boycott on social media. Twins Devin and Jason McCourty from the New England Patriots shared their respect for the Bucks on Twitter, while Kenny Stills from the Houston Texans suggested that they follow suit and connect with local activists.

Tyrann Mathieu from the Kansas City Chiefs also made a strong statement on Twitter. He commented on how there had been at least twenty other shootings since the George Floyd tragedy earlier this year.

Some teams have already taken action to show their support for the social justice movement. The Detroit Lions cancelled their practice following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

On the same day, the Chicago Bears released a statement commenting on the incident and said that their players were deeply disturbed by the shooting in Kenosha. They also stated that they will continue to use their resources to fight peacefully for equality and help bring an end to systemic racism.

Later in the week, the Baltimore Ravens cancelled training in order to carry out a team unifying session focussing on social reform. In a statement released on social media, the team called for the officers who shot Blake to be arrested and charged. They also called for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, another victim of a police shooting. The Ravens went on to call for prison sentencing reforms to make them more fair, as well as encouraging the public to register to vote and participate in the political process.

This outcry of support for those protesting against racism and social injustice and the actions taken already by NFL players do suggest postponing games could be on the cards. Postponing the NFL’s would be an extremely powerful move and would help to bring worldwide attention to recent tragic events and the need for change.

It’s undeniable that this postponement would disrupt the season. However, many would agree that these disruptions are a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. The rearrangement of the NBA Game 5 games was agreed within a matter of days after the boycott, suggesting the same could and would likely be done for the NFL’s.

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