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Coffee with the Caps, Friday August 28

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps fans. It’s been a long week over here so hope that we all have a shot at a pleasant weekend (without any Whitecaps matches to get us down!).

In fact, there was supposed to be a full-blown slate of games this weekend but it is looking increasingly likely that few, if any, of them will be played.

No, not because of the historically powerful hurricane bearing down on the U.S. But rather because athletes across sports are taking a stand and organizing what is, in effect, a wildcat strike in response to the shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, at the hands of the Kenosha, Wis. police department.

The shooting has prompted widespread civil unrest within the state of Wisconsin, something the Milwaukee Bucks responded to by refusing to play against the Orlando Magic Wednesday. Athletes in virtually every other sport, ranging from tennis to hockey to baseball, have followed suit.

The same was true in American soccer. Only Orlando City SC and Nashville SC played on Wednesday night and Oscar Pareja said the Lions wouldn’t had played had they known a walkout movement was afoot. Forward Madison, who is playing their home games a short distance from Kenosha, has already postponed their match Sunday in solidarity.

While Montreal and Toronto FC are slated to play tonight it wouldn’t shock me if that match, and others throughout the weekend weren’t played. And in a time where athletes in the U.S. are showing an unprecedented level of activism, in a manner not see since Muhammad Ali refused the draft, it is exhilarating to see MLS players taking a stand as well.

Ah, if only everyone felt that way!

Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen has caused headlines nationally for saying his players’ decision not to play against LAFC a “profound disappointment” and said the move made him question “how much I want to invest in the team.”

“It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that’s not a very good path to take,” Hansen said on a radio station he owns Thursday.

Hansen owns not just RSL but also the NWSL’s Utah Royals and USL’s Real Monarchs. He has pumped a lot of money into all three clubs which perhaps explains why MLS treated him with kid gloves.

After several hours of outrage, MLS Commissioner Don Garber appeared to wrangle Hansen into making a watered down apology, saying he “misinterpreted” the actions of his players while also not disavowing any of the comments he made prior. Garber then put out a statement condemning the remarks and not much else, presumably hoping the matter would go away.

Oh sweet summer child.

The Athletic then entered the chat, publishing a story which appears to show that Hansen’s remarks were not out of character. The history of racist comments, substantiated by multiple people, includes talking about lynching Kellyn Acosta, then of FC Dallas.

“I’ve been in situations where it’s like (former LA Clippers owner) Donald Sterling. He says something, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what did he just say?’ It’s Donald Sterling part two,” former scout Andy Williams said in the story. “It’s just unbelievable. It’s crazy how he doesn’t see that the stuff that he says affects people.”

Only after this story dropped did MLS and NWSL relent and say they are launching an investigation.

The parallels with the Sterling case are clear, except this is taking place against a backdrop of social justice movements the nation over. MLS just spent a month proclaiming black lives do matter before every match, now must deal with the reality that a racist (and probably numerous racists) are top level decision makers.

I vividly remember the press conference in which Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from basketball. The swiftness and decisiveness stunned me from a major sports league.

But times have changed since then. That kind of move should be expected from a leader. That kind of move should be expected from Don Garber. An investigation into the matter is resonable and I hope the league moves without delay. If the allegations against Hansen are substantiated, he should be ejected from the league. Full stop.

The league needs to make more substantial changes in response to the activism of its players and it can start here.

Shameless Self Promotion

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More on the anatomy of how the league wide protest came about on Wednesday. And a column on the risk some of the players took in taking a stand

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