No NBA team will play on Election Day: A lesson in communal impact

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No NBA team will play on Election Day: A lesson in communal impact

September 1, 2022 - Ryan Denison, PhD

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals in San Francisco, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals in San Francisco, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

When the NBA released the schedule for the upcoming season, most of the attention was understandably directed at opening day, which teams would play on Christmas, and other marquee matchups. However, there is a unique quirk to the way the NBA organized its games this year, and it reveals an important shift in how the league sees its role in the culture.

As an entertainment business, the NBA strives to make sure that its product is on TV and available to consume as much as possible. As such, once opening day kicks off, seldom a night goes by without the chance to watch at least two teams compete. That will be the case again this year—with one notable exception.

Every team in the league will play on Monday, November 7 to ensure that no team plays on Tuesday, November 8. Those dates are significant because the eighth is Election Day.

“A culture of political participation”

As the NBA explained, “The scheduling decision came out of the NBA family’s focus on promoting nonpartisan civic engagement and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections.” Andrea Hailey, CEO of Vote.org, said of the move, “The NBA is creating a culture of political participation, which extends not only to its athletes but to fans as well.”

And while the league will use every game on Nov. 7 to make one final push for people to vote the following day, it will be a point of emphasis throughout the year.

There is also some hope that the teams will replicate a move made in 2020 when they opened their stadiums to be used as election sites, though the logistics of doing so might be more difficult this year since half of those arenas will have been in use for games the night before. Two years ago, the pandemic forced the league to have a late start, so games had not yet begun by Election Day.

Even if the stadiums remain closed to the public, however, 2020 will have had a significant impact on this decision. In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, many players around the league became more focused on using their platform to advocate for people to vote. Getting the league to join them in those efforts was one of the players’ key requirements to agreeing to continue that 2020 season after Covid-19 forced them to stop in March.

This season’s schedule demonstrates that partnership will continue.

What impact could we make?

All of us have areas of our lives in which we wield the ability to help influence the thoughts and actions of others. Your influence, like mine, is probably not on the same scale as some of the most famous athletes and most profitable leagues in the world, but there are still people around us whom we can help shape.

Too often, though, we forget that we don’t have to do that alone.

One reason the Bible places such an emphasis on living in community with other believers and other people is that we are not meant to live out God’s plans for our lives by ourselves. If there is something the Lord has called you to do for his kingdom, then there is a very good chance he has given that same call to others around you. And while your role within that calling may be unique, learning to prayerfully partner with others who share a similar purpose is one of the best ways to amplify your efforts and effectiveness.

If you’re already engaged in that kind of partnership, then thank God for it and pray that he would keep your relationship strong and united around his will. If you’re not, ask him to point out others you can come alongside so you can strengthen them while they strengthen you.

Just as the NBA and its players can accomplish more when they work together, each of us can accomplish more for God’s kingdom when we join with our brothers and sisters in Christ to see the Lord’s calling for our lives fulfilled.

With whom can you partner today?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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