Our basketball team’s respond to major activism in the NBA 


Art by Angeline Tan

Simran Sahota, Treasurer

What exactly is the First Amendment? With freedom of speech and the right to protest usually the first things to come to mind, why is it a controversial topic for NBA players to express their opinions on the tragic events occurring? For example, the life of Jacob Blake was one of many tragically taken because of police brutality soon after George Floyd.  These are just the ones that have been recorded. In response, the Milwaukee Bucks took a stand for Jacob Blake by postponing their playoff game, resulting in the NBA postponing other games as well. To many, this was a seen as a courageous act done by the teams in order to pay their respects. 

 In effort to support the players, the NBA has allowed teams to choose from a list of 20 statements to put onto their jerseys in order to express their thoughts on the current events in our society. 

 Varsity Boys Basketball Coach, Scott von Stade provides his take on this subject by saying, “I believe people need to break bread at the table between one another by getting out of their comfort zones.” He adds, “In short, the police need higher educational requirements and less protection from the qualified immunity… they are going into a two-year program then come out with the same people like a flock… they now have a weapon along with immunity protecting them in situations where they use deadly force.” 

 Police brutality has been a reoccurring issue that now is receiving more attention due to protests and the calls for action from major sports leagues. Hoping for a change after witnessing many lives being taken, players in the NBA have not only been participating in the movements mentioned above but have also began taking a knee during the National Anthem. Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback in the NFL, started this in 2016.

  When asked for his initial thoughts on players beginning to kneel during the National Anthem, Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Lee Aptaker says, “Back in Colin Kaepernick’s time, it was very misunderstood.” Aptaker and his son’s background as military vets personally weren’t offended of Kapernick taking a knee.” He was merely getting people to recognize that there is an issue.” In his opinion, “Our country was founded on protests because of the Boston Tea Party. So people believing that protests are not being patriotic is the 180% the wrong term… one of the amazing things about being able to live in this country is to protest and fight for what we believe in.” 

 Senior Keona Siufanua, a student athlete, also said, “I think that the kneeling during the National Anthem brought awareness to the social injustices that have been occurring.” 

 Although sports fall under the entertainment category, players still have a right to express their thoughts and feelings on the current injustices. These players have many large platforms in which people of all ages and ethnicities follow, meaning they can reach a larger audience in order to raise more awareness on these issues. 

When asked if he believed if these movements are distracting the players and the coaches from the sport itself, von Stade stated, “…distraction levels depend on who is affected by it and how detached they are from their community. Some players are more bothered than others, but the responses have been great.”

 When asked the same question,  Aptaker said, “Maybe, but I don’t think that’s a negative, because if we are just being honest, a great portion of athletes themselves are African American, and growing up in this country, there may be nothing more important to them than equality…” 

 A call for action is also being seen at a local level in our boys basketball team. In their group chat, Senior Simeon Sims, a student athlete says, “Justice for Breonna Taylor” - another life taken too soon due to police brutality. Unintentionally, Sims started a chain for his teammates in which many of them responded with a closed fist illustrating their support for the movement as well. 

For issues to be resolved, they must be addressed.  Continuing to bring attention to these issues will help improve them. Each coach and player from our basketball teams who was spoken to is in favor of these NBA activism movements.  This action results in bringing more awareness to many issues in our country.