Former interim UFC champion Colby Covington is never one to let a moment of controversy pass without injecting himself into the conversation. He did just that on Wednesday night, when he criticized NBA, MLB, and other professional athletes for boycotting sports in protest of the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
The protests came on the heels of the shooting of Blake, a black man, that was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha Police Department officer that had been attempting to arrest him.
The incident that led to Jacob Blake’s shooting
Officers had been called to the scene because of a domestic incident, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which quickly took over the investigation from the Kenosha PD following the incident.
The officers on scene attempted to arrest Blake and used a Taser to try to stop him, according to Department of Justice investigators. Blake then walked around his vehicle and leaned into the driver’s side door, at which point an officer that had grabbed Blake’s shirt fired his weapon seven times into Blake’s back.
The officers rendered aid until Blake could be transported to a hospital. Blake has undergone several surgeries and remains in critical condition, paralyzed from the waist down.
How the NBA and professional sports protests developed
The professional sports protests surrounding the shooting began on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for Game 5 of their NBA playoff game with the Orlando Magic. The Magic players then joined the Bucks in a show of solidarity, which led to the NBA postponing the two other playoff games that had been scheduled for Wednesday.
The Bucks players tipped a domino of protest from other athletes across the United States.
WNBA players took the court in T-shirts with seven red marks on the back, signifying the seven times that the officer shot Blake in the back. That led to WNBA officials cancelling the three games scheduled for Wednesday.
Major League Soccer canceled five games. The Western & Souther tennis tournament postponed Thursday’s matches after tennis star Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament in protest.
NBA analyst Kenny Smith, a former NBA player, walked off the set of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” during a live broadcast in solidarity with the players.
The protests were a tipping point for players, who had seen not only Blake’s shooting, but also felt the cumulative effect of the officer involved deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and other Black Americans.
Kenny Smith walks off the set of “Inside the NBA” in solidarity
(Video courtesy of NBA on TNT)
Colby Covington’s rant aimed at NBA players and Major League Baseball
Covington did not make a direct statement on the shootings themselves or the change the players hoped to encourage, but appeared to take umbrage with the manner of the protests and the criticism of police officers.
“Oh wow, you postponed your games?!” Covington wrote. “Wanna prove you’re really about change? Quite your multi-million dollar jobs and soft privileged lives playing a kid’s game, take a massive pay cut and perform the toughest job in America. Become cops!!!!”
Oh wow, you postponed your games?! Wanna prove you’re really about change? Quit your multi million dollar jobs and soft privileged lives playing a kids game, take a massive pay cut and perform the toughest job in America. Become cops!!!! @NBA @MLB @KingJames
— Colby Covington (@ColbyCovMMA) August 27, 2020
He tagged the NBA, Major League Baseball, and NBA superstar LeBron James, who is also a UFC fan.
James had earlier tweeted, “F— this man!!!! We demand change. Sick of it.”
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
On Thursday, James added, “Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my I Promise School kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is more than a vote. #BlackLivesMatter”
Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my @IPROMISESchool kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That's why your vote is @morethanavote ✊🏾 #BlackLivesMatter
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 27, 2020
Dana White and the UFC honored George Floyd after his death
While Covington was critical about the approach the NBA players and other professional athletes took to protest the recent police shootings, the UFC has not removed itself from the calls for change to injustice in America.
At UFC Vegas 1 on May 30, the promotion’s first event in Las Vegas after it re-opened sports in America in Florida, the fight promotion honored George Floyd. Floyd was a black man that died during a police arrest in Minneapolis, when an officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
The UFC opened its broadcast with a graphic showing George Floyd, displaying the years of his birth and his death.
— UFC (@ufc) May 31, 2020
Following the event, when asked about the decision to honor Floyd on the broadcast, UFC president Dana White stated, “Because we should. What happened was horrible and it’s something really affecting this country right now and the world. There’s riots going on everywhere, across the world, right now. It was the right thing to do.”
Dana White addresses the George Floyd tribute and the Riots
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