Here's the Difference Between Boycotting and Striking — and Why It Matters

Photo Courtesy: @WNBA/Twitter

Even though Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs was meant to be played on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the AdventHealth Arena at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, remained empty. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to play in the wake of the police’s attempted murder of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, August 23. The Orlando Magic, the Bucks’ competitors in the playoffs, followed suit, and, within a matter of hours, athletes across the NBA, WNBA, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball refused to play games. In the world of tennis, U.S. Open defending champ Naomi Osaka led the charge to shut down her sport for the day, too.

The NBA’s athletes made headlines by delaying play, but when news outlets reported on the situation a new controversy struck: Was the refusal to play a boycott or a strike? Although various NBA athletes and the Bucks’ management staff used the word "boycott," that may not have been the right choice of words. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY; @AOC) even called out The New York Times, tweeting, "You need to change [the boycott headline] to STRIKE." So, what is the proper terminology here — and why does it matter?