Did the sports boycott really do anything?

The protests continue. Assuming that you keep up with current events since you’re reading this newspaper, you know all about the chants and, well, ridiculous violence that goes along with protests nowadays. The one that struck me as odd was the sports boycotts.

It happened with most major-league sports teams last week as basketball and hockey games were shut down because players refused to play in the wake of another police-involved shooting in the U.S.

It’s said that professional athletes need to use their celebrity status and influential powers to make a difference in the world. Not that I’m a naysayer, but just because my nephew’s favourite hockey player says to be nice to others, I don’t believe those sage words will be world changing.

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In fact, the lesson those athletes are sharing is that if you don’t agree with something or want to make a point, then walk off the job and refuse to work. Easy to do for someone with a multi-million-dollar contract, not so for someone with a minimum-wage job.

As I’ve stated many times in this column, I applaud people for speaking their mind and expressing their opinion. But when any bit of turmoil somewhere in the world prompts the masses to flood the streets, it only makes onlookers say, “Here we go again” and it waters down the message.

I previously commented that not everything is a protest. Same goes for how these demonstrations play out. More and more it’s getting unruly and dangerous, so it makes you wonder if people are going to show up when they know it’s not going to be peaceful and will be fodder for social media or the late-night news.

To hear that protests have been happening in Portland for over 90 days – night after night after night – it makes you wonder how effective they really are. Now, it appears people are just out there for sport. (Ironically, the only kind of sport you could watch last week thanks to the boycott noted above.)

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Now you have people looking the other way when a protest starts. It defeats the purpose of being out there. The focus is no longer on what prompted the demonstration (for instance, police brutality), it’s suddenly about the mob itself and the, “Oh crap, they’re coming this way” feeling the community has when the sound of windows smashing gets closer to their homes.

I found myself walking by the TV a few times last weekend and each time the news channel was reporting from some street-side protest. Truthfully, as much as I encourage people to stand up for themselves, it had me say, “What is it now?”

And if someone like me, who is tolerant and open minded, is starting to feel that way, I can only imagine how others are thinking about non-stop protests every day. Yes, the same can be said for unnecessary police violence, but then perhaps protests aren’t the way to make change with this.

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