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How Sports Are Reacting To The Police Killings

This week, we discuss the sports world’s reaction to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis and the widespread protests that followed. We start with the NFL, which released a statement of support that was widely criticized for being empty and disingenuous. The Hot Takedown team largely agrees with that criticism: The league made its bed years ago when it froze former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of a job after his protests of police killings. There’s very little the league can do to rebuild its credibility, especially on issues of racial justice.

We also talk about how players are responding. On the whole, more athletes are speaking out — whether because sports are on pause or because protests like Kaepernick’s paved the way for a class of athletes more comfortable advocating for justice. No other quarterbacks took a knee during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but more than half of the league’s QBs have gone at least as far as posting something on Instagram that objects to the killing of George Floyd. But, the team argues, the world needs more than Tom Brady’s prayer hand emojis. It needs more substantive contributions, especially from white athletes. There’s no telling if sports will become a more active arena for social issues, but in light of the last week, the ground is more ripe for a change now than it’s been in many decades.

What we’re looking at this week:

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.