Athletics

Olympian John Carlos questions A's decision to play game

Athletics

Oakland has a long history when it comes to activism around civil rights. The birthplace of the Black Panther Party, the city has a rich history of fighting for the rights of Black people around the country.

After Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot multiple times by Kenosha, Wis. police officers during an incident Sunday, Oakland took to the streets and demanded change. While protests were ongoing in the city Wednesday night, the A's were in Texas, where they defeated the Rangers 3-1 on a night where three NBA Playoff games, three MLB games and the entire MLS and WNBA schedules for the day were postponed. 

John Carlos, a San Jose State alumni and one of the two athletes who chose to raise a fist on the medal stand during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, believes the organization let down the city it calls home by electing to continue with their game as scheduled.

“Oakland doesn’t just have a legacy of activism,” he told The Athletic's Alex Coffey on Wednesday night. “It’s right in the hub of blackness. Oakland is a large contingency of Blacks. So, by them playing, I don’t know whether ownership or general manager or what, is aware of the signal that they’re sending. They’re sending the signal that we have no concern about the life of Black people. It’s all about business. And that’s going to resonate down the line. I tell certain people, hey, man, don’t be concerned about what’s happening now. Be concerned by how you will be viewed in the future in history.

 

“It sends the message that even though we’re in the hub of Blackness, we really don’t have a concern about a young man’s life, or the young individual lives that were taken, or the young man that was shot in his back seven times. We have no concern about them. All we’re concerned about is doing our jobs. They haven’t come to the realization that life is far more important than any medals or any trophies or any championships that you can win, or any game that you play. Nobody is asking them to sacrifice the season or sacrifice the rest of their career in baseball. They’re just asking them to stand in line and sacrifice a day to make your commitment to tell society that something is wrong, and that we have to come together as a people to face it.”

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Blake's family says the man has been left paralyzed by the shooting. A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters following Wednesday's game that the decision was player-led, and came close to the scheduled 5:05 p.m. PT first pitch.

“They wanted to be united as a group in what we did," Melvin said. "I just wanted to make sure we covered all our bases, and it was uncomfortable before the game and you see some other teams playing. Mostly the west coast (decided not to play), other than Milwaukee and they were right in the middle of it there and that decision was probably made way earlier in the day.”

The Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who had a 6:45 p.m. first pitch scheduled, made their decision to postpone about an hour before the game started, around 5:30 p.m. according to Coffey.

The NBA playoffs pushed all three of its scheduled games back, but reports surfaced Thursday morning that the season will continue on Friday.

Oakland is an important city to the Black community, and with the Raiders and Warriors each electing to leave the city in the past few years, the A's are the lone major four (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) franchise left. It's unclear whether the A's will continue with their scheduled game this afternoon in Texas (first pitch at 3:37 p.m.), but Melvin said Wednesday night that the team will be making a collective decision.

“Our guys said, ‘Look, we’re going to play tonight, and tomorrow, we’re going to discuss it as a group,’ ”