Tonight’s game between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy has been postponed in light of the events in Kenosha, Wisc., Sounder at Heart has confirmed. The Sounders players were reportedly unanimous in their decision not to play, following in the footsteps of teams and leagues around the country who had called off their games earlier in the day. It is currently unclear when or if the game will be rescheduled.
The Sounders were already in Los Angeles, having flown there earlier in the day, when the decision was made. Just a couple days earlier the team launched its “We Are All Sounders” initiative in which they pledged to focus on four areas for change: to fight racism, defend the right to play, stand for LGBTQ+ equality and protect our planet.
“This year has forced us all to look at the world anew — to face uncomfortable truths in our community and, in doing so, galvanize us to act,” Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said in announcing the initiative. “As summer closes, the time for change is now. We want to change our community to be a more just and inclusive place to live. But we know that change, real systemic change, will require all of us — our entire Sounders FC family.”
The Sounders match was just the last of what was a virtual tidal wave of games in several sports being canceled in response to police shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times. On Tuesday night, two protesters were killed. On Wednesday, police arrested a 17-year-old on charges of first-degree homicide in connection to those killings.
The sports-world dominoes started to fall when Milwaukee Bucks players staged a wildcat strike that eventually led to the night’s NBA playoff games being called off. The WNBA soon followed, cancelling their three games scheduled for the night. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds also decided to not play their game by unanimous decision of the players, which seemed particularly momentous as Major League Baseball had previously avoided these kinds of public displays of solidarity with protesters. The Mariners followed suit, while some MLB games went forward.
One of the more powerful images of the day was provided by commentator Kenny Smith, who walked off the NBA on TNT set while on air.
Kenny Smith, Inside the NBA host, just walked off the set: “As a black man, as a former player, I think it's best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight."pic.twitter.com/3561mMA1Vi— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 26, 2020
Stefan Frei was the first Sounders player to confirm that their game was in doubt.
Disturbing times, not in the mood to play. Human rights are bigger than sports— Stefan Frei (@Stefan24Frei) August 27, 2020
Shortly after the Bucks announced their plans, various MLS players expressed their own frustrations both with the killings and with the speed with which league officials reacted.
Don’t ask Black people when we can “return” to easy going normalcy. Don’t ask us when we can “move on” from the moment. Ask yourself what you’re willing to do to put yourself & community on track to dismantling oppressive systems, while calling for & holding people accountable— Jeremy Ebobisse (@kingjebo) August 26, 2020
@MLS @thesoccerdon put out a statement regarding what’s happening in this country. Don’t be the last to do so. Protect your players and do your part to help bring about change please. I’m furious. We don’t feel safe...— Mark-Anthony Kaye (@MarkThEwizz) August 26, 2020
About two hours later, MLS finally released this statement that expressed solidarity with the Black community but offered nothing concrete in terms of actions: