If you’re a sports organization, your home opener is kind of a big deal. Not only does it kick off your season, but it helps establish expectations for the year moving forward. It sets a tone for your entire franchise and is the culmination of grueling offseason preparation. So if you’re gonna make a statement, your season opener is your best opportunity to put both your fans and opponents on notice.
On Monday night, Kansas City’s National Women’s Soccer League team did exactly that.
Since the murder of George Floyd last summer, professional athletes have been far more outspoken than in the past and have embraced the necessity of using their platforms to address racial injustice in our country. We’ve seen Black Lives Matter protests in sports like baseball that would’ve never occurred in the past, as well as athletes and coaches commandeering press conferences to address the plight of Black and Brown people in this country.
So looking to follow suit, prior to their game against the Houston Dash, Kansas City had some things to get off their chest as well—literally.
As both teams took the field on Monday, players for Kansas City came out in black “Justice for Daunte Wright” t-shirts. Because is there any better way to make a statement during your home opener than to stand up for Black lives?
As we previously reported at The Root, on April 11, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police officers during a traffic stop Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn.:
Details about the shooting are still being gathered, but so far this is what we know, according to the New York Times: Officers pulled Wright over Sunday afternoon for a traffic violation and discovered that he had outstanding warrants. Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was being pulled over and she told him to give his phone to the officer so she could provide the auto insurance information. Cops tried to detain Wright, but he supposedly got back into his car, which is when officers shot him.
“I heard scuffling, and I heard the police officers say, ‘Daunte, don’t run,’ and then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down’ and hung it up,” Katie Wright said, according to ABC KSTP-TV 5. “And a minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered—that was the passenger—and said that he’d been shot, and she put it on the driver’s side and my son was laying there lifeless.
The shooting of Daunte Wright has ignited a wave of reactions from the sports world, and by kicking off their inaugural NWSL season as an expansion club by calling for police accountability, Kansas City is on the right path.