Suspension Journal: It’s OK not to care about the NBA and basketball right now

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Yesterday we learned that the NBA is planning on restarting its season July 31, with 20-22 teams in Orlando, Florida.

If you missed the news because there’s so much going on in the world, that’s understandable. If you heard the news and decided you couldn’t care less because everything else going on in the world is so much more important, that’s understandable as well.

Personally, I found it difficult to care about NBA basketball even before the events of the past few days. As the NBA continued to forge ahead with its plans, while COVID-19 deaths in the United States surpassed 1,000 per day and new cases in Ontario continued to rise between 300-400 per day, I thought it all just sounded so preposterous. It seemed way too early to be talking about bringing sports back. People couldn’t safely keep their distance in one dang park on one nice day, how could we safely restart the NBA season? In Florida, of all places?

And then George Floyd was murdered on camera in Minneapolis, by a police officer, with (at the time) no consequences. Protests, understandably, broke out. The President of the United States got into a pissing match with Twitter, and then proceeded to threaten protestors with violence on the same platform.

And then Regis Korchinski-Paquet was killed during an incident with police right here in Toronto. And we don’t forgot Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery either.

How can I care about the NBA right now? How can anyone? How can Woj and Shams hop on Twitter and tell us about the latest board of governors meeting when cops are using tear gas on protestors and are arresting (and shooting at!) reporters in Minneapolis? When 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States? When our most vulnerable citizens here in Ontario were being treated so poorly we had to send in the freakin’ military just to assess the situation? When shop owners are getting the crap kicked out of them because they want their customers to wear masks?

I understand that the world keeps turning and people have jobs to do and so on. But maybe we could have put a pause on getting the latest scoop or debating a World Cup play-in format while people are getting killed in the streets?

To be completely honest, it’s hard to care about anything at the moment. Everything is just bad, all the time, and it seems like there’s nothing that can be done and it’s just going to keep getting worse. It feels hopeless, it feels like you can’t escape it.

I haven’t had half as much work as I normally would since before this pandemic started, but even with that small amount, there are times when I can barely accomplish anything, so pervasive is this sense of despair. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

In the past, I might have said “you know, sports are a good distraction from the all the bad shit, it’s OK to watch some hoops and take your mind off things” but I can’t even say that now. We shouldn’t be distracted from this; we should be sitting up and paying attention. People are dying and our public institutions, the ones that are supposed to protect us and lead us out of “bad times”, are not only failing, they’re actively making things worse.

I love basketball, I love the NBA and I love the Raptors. I miss NBA basketball. I get paid to write about the NBA and the Raptors. So yeah, part of me feels guilty for not caring, for saying I don’t want the NBA to come back because I don’t think it’s safe, for wanting to think about other things, for not wanting to write some hot take about how play-in tournaments suck.

But ultimately we all have to decide what matters to us. And right now NBA basketball doesn’t matter. Black lives matter. Being an ally matters. Finding a way to help or make a difference, no matter how small, matters.

And it’s not hard to find a way. There are many people on Twitter sharing ways to help right now. Here are a couple below. Donate if you’re able, share if you can, sign a petition. It might make you feel a little less helpless, even if only for a few minutes.