San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters ahead of the team’s Memorial Day weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds that he would sit out the US national anthem, and that going forward he wouldn’t take the field for any pregame national anthems “until I feel better about the direction of our country”.
Mr Kapler spoke with reporters on Friday ahead of the series opening weekend in Ohio, echoing much of what he’d written earlier in the week in a fiery blog post following the brutal mass shooting in Uvalde that left19 children and two teachers dead.
“I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily, but it’s something I feel strongly enough about to take that step,” he told reporters while sitting on the bench ahead of the game.
In his essay, published just days after a teenage gunman tore through Robb Elementary School armed with an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, he described how his father had taught him when he was the same age as the children killed on Tuesday that you pledge allegiance to your country when you believe that country is “representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t”.
“I don’t believe it is representing us well right now,” he wrote in the blog post, titled, ‘Home of the brave?‘.
He added that he no longer wanted to partake in moments of silence and stand for national anthems when these “thoughtless displays of celebration” seem to only “celebrate a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings”.
“We elect our politicians to represent our interests. Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love,” he added, before noting that the US is “the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place”.
Though he did participate in the national anthem ahead of Wednesday’s game, the baseball manager said ahead of Friday’s game that it often takes him time to process things, particularly matters as grave as Tuesday’s mass shooting.
“Sometimes, for me, it takes a couple of days to put things together,” he told reporters and directed them to read his blog post if they had any further questions they’d like addressed.
Mr Kapler’s remarks this week comes after another heavyweight from the sports world, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, decided to wade into the politics of America’s gun debate, an arena that athletes, coaches and managers tend to keep to the sidelines of.
“I’m not going to talk about basketball,” a visibly emotional Kerr said during a pre-game press conference on Tuesday. “When are we gonna do something?” he shouted, while banging his fists on the table and appearing to tear up.
“I’m tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired of the ‘excuse me, I’m sorry’, I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough,” the prominent NBA coach said.
Mr Kapler’s sentiments, written just days later, similarly echoed the exhaustion and wastefulness of offering moments of silence without providing any real action on “legislation that protects the interests of all the people”.
“We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn,” he said.
The manager told the media that he doesn’t intend to return to the field to stand for the national anthem until he sees his country moving in a direction that he can be proud of, noting that this type of protest is the kind that “the home of the brave should encourage.”