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Tampa Bay Sports Teams Join Protests In Response To Wisconsin Shooting

USF Football Unity Walk 6-6-2020.jpg
TRAVIS PENDERGRASS / USF FOOTBALL
USF football players, led by senior KJ Sails, left, and head coach Jeff Scott, with baseball cap, took part in a Unity Walk in downtown Tampa June 6, 2020. The team sat out practice Thursday to discuss the need for racial equality.

Sports protests in response to a shooting by Wisconsin police came to the greater Tampa Bay region Thursday, with teams responding in different ways.

Protests by sports teams in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, are spreading to the greater Tampa Bay region.

Thursday night's game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in St. Petersburg was postponed right around the scheduled 7 p.m. first pitch, while Friday's Game 4 in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins was pushed back to the weekend.

While some NFL teams sat out Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to practice.

After a team meeting, some players and head coach Bruce Arians said they want to take what they call "real action."

“I think your responsibility is to take action - I don’t know that protest is an action. I think each guy has a personal thing," said Arians. "I would beg them to take action, find a cause and either support it financially or do something to change the situation, because protesting doesn’t do crap in my opinion. I’ve been seeing it since 1968.”

But at the University of South Florida, the entire football team chose not to practice Thursday. Instead, players, including the team's leadership group, held meetings to discuss the social unrest.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that USF head coach Jeff Scott had to pause to compose himself during an emotional press conference.

“These are real life situations that are going on,” said Scott. “I think as a coach, you always take pride in being able to fix things for your players. … This is one of those situations that, as a coach, you can’t fix for your players.

“And so part of it is just for your guys to know that you love them, that you’re there to support them and that you stand with them. That’s really what these conversations are about, and then what do we do going forward as a team to try to have a positive impact to such a disappointing and sad situation.”

And for the second straight day, the WNBA, which is playing in Bradenton, postponed three games in response to the Blake shooting.

On Thursday night, Chicago was going to face Indiana, New York was to meet Dallas and Las Vegas was to play Seattle.

So far six games have been postponed over the past two nights.

The league had just passed its halfway mark of the 22-game season. With teams playing pretty much every other day in the bubble, the postponed games will most likely have to be made up after the regular season ends Sept. 12.

The league is playing its games near the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Additional information in this report courtesy The Associated Press