Colts cancel practice, will focus on social issues

Colts

HOUSTON – NOVEMBER 29: An Indianapolis Colts helmet on the field beofre the game with the Houston Texans on November 29, 2009 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Colts won 35-27. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS– The Indianapolis Colts have hit the pause button on their training camp work to focus on more pressing matters.

The team canceled Thursday’s practice in response to the on-going social unrest rippling across the country, the latest being the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

“Instead the team will use the day to discuss and work toward making a lasting social impact and inspiring change in our communities,’’ said a team spokesman.

The Colts join a growing list of professional teams giving some type of action to the Blake situation and so many other involving Black Americans.

Already Thursday, Washington and the New York Jets canceled practice.

Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks were the catalysts as three NBA playoff games were postponed. The WNBA scuttled its Wednesday schedule and three Major League Baseball games were postponed, including the Cincinnati Reds’ road game with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In mid-June, the Colts interrupted their virtual offseason to respond to the escalating protests sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbrey and others.

Rather than go about the business of holding team and positional meetings virtually, the team focused on racism and social injustice. Players used the occasion to share their experiences.

“Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable,’’ coach Frank Reich said at the time. “There is no form of it that is acceptable and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice far too long.’’

General manager Chris Ballard added he had “been ignorant to the real problem, and I’m ashamed of that. This is not a Black problem. This is a white problem. This is an issue that we have to talk about and we can’t sugarcoat it.

“I haven’t listened. We haven’t listened as a country. White America refuses to listen.’’

At the same time, owner Jim Irsay took several steps to battle what he described as “systemic racism and other forms of discrimination.’’ His objective was to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in the team’s business and in the community.

Those steps included the creation of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion; the formation of the Irsay Family Scholarship, which will assist minority students with financial aid; and formally recognizing “Juneteenth,’’ which is June 19 and celebrates the freedom of formally enslaved individuals. The latter will be a permanent company holiday.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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