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Major League Baseball on Kaepernick’s Protest

Protests Across the Major Sports

Being an athlete is more than just a job, just like a sport is more than just a game. Athletes fuel our next generation as they are seen as high-end role models. Their actions are seen all across the world and many kids reflect and mimic all their ideals regardless whether it’s right or wrong. It comes with a never ending spotlight and push for the betterment of society. Athletes should take it upon themselves, just as athletes all across the world have done. For example, NBA stars, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade had a powerful and moving speech at this years ESPYs.

The NBA has had countless acts of social stands and now with the NFL season kicking off, they too have seen stand in acts of social protests regarding race and gun violence. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, was the first to weigh-in. He has sat and knelt during the National Anthem causing support, but even more backlash than ever imagined. Kaepernick has been voted America’s most hated NFL player, in a recent USA Today poll.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Other NFL athletes have begun to protest as well, kneeling, sitting or raising a fist during the anthem. Protests have gone so far that the Miami-Dade Police union has told Sheriffs not to escort the Miami Dolphins because players have not stood for the Anthem.

 

Mixing Baseball and Activism

We hear constant voices from the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, but when will Major League Baseball have it’s voice? Since Kaepernick took a stand, we haven’t seen one Major League player take a stand — or a knee, in this case.

Baltimore Orioles outfielder, Adam Jones was the first to publicly address Kaepernick’s protest of the National Anthem. Jones reasoning for the lack of a voice in baseball is due to the lack of African American ballplayers. It makes it difficult for the African-American players to speak without massive backlash.

“We already have two strikes against us already,’’ Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones told USA TODAY Sports- Bob Nightengale, “So you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us. Baseball is a white man’s sport.’’

Baseball is a white man’s sport…? Though Jones may have over exaggerated, he isn’t wrong about the presence of African Americans in baseball. African Americans make up more than two-thirds of the NFL and NBA population. But African Americans currently represent less than 10% of MLB rosters.

“He believes in what he believes in,’’ Jones says of Kaepernick, “And as a man of faith, as an American who has rights, who am I to say he’s wrong? Kaepernick is not disrespecting the military. He’s not disrespecting people who they’re fighting. What he’s doing is showing that he doesn’t like the social injustice that the flag represents. Look, I know a lot of people who don’t even know the words to the National Anthem. You know how many times I see people stand up for the National Anthem and not pay attention. They stand because they’re told to stand. That’s the problem. Just don’t do something because you’re told to do something. Do it because you understand the meaning behind it and the sacrifice behind it.

Here’s my thing, there’s somebody on the 49ers’ team [Bruce Miller] that commits an act like that, accosts a 70-year-old man and his kid, and nobody’s talking about that. But they talk about Kaepernick doing something that he believes in, as his right as an American citizen. People need to talk more about that guy than Kaepernick. He’s not receiving the ridicule and public torture that Kaepernick is facing. Is Kaepernick hurting me? No. Is he hurting random people out there? No. I support his decision. At the end of the day, if you don’t respect his freedoms, then why the hell are we Americans? It’s supposed to be the Land of the Free, right?

I’ve seen Kaepernick called the N-word just because he’s being sensitive to what has happened to African-Americans in this country. It’s crazy how when people of color speak up, we’re always ridiculed. But when people that are not of color speak up, it’s their right. The First Amendment says we have freedom of expression. We’re supposed to be so free, so free. But any time anybody of color speaks up in the United States, for some odd reason, they always get the raw end of the deal. It sucks. At the end of the day, black men have fought for this right. Indians have fought for this right. White people fought for this right. Mexicans have fought for this right. Japanese have fought this for this right. The United States was not just made up of one race. So let’s just not say that in America, only one person can say something. We all have input because America has always been a country that has united everybody.

The outside world doesn’t really respect athletes, unless they talk about what they want them to talk about. Society doesn’t think we deserve the right to have an opinion on social issues. We make a lot of money, so we just have to talk baseball, talk football. But most athletes, especially if you’re tenured in your sport, you’re educated on life, and on more things than most people on the outside. But because Donald Trump is a billionaire, he can say whatever he wants, because he’s older and has more money? And when Kaepernick does something, or says something, he’s ridiculed. Why is that?”

Regardless of what you think is right or wrong, Adam Jones is on to something. He’s shining a light onto area’s we haven’t seen before. He’s outlined the flaws in the criticism athletes face in taking social stands. Athletes always want to make an impact aside from the field or court. Young children, future athletes and even adults watch their every move, praising them, but the second their on the opposite side of their beliefs they’re torn apart. They’re seen as sick and twisted animals, rather than human beings with a voice.

So where do we as fans draw the lines? Where do we take step back and understand that these incredibly talented people we aspire to be can take a stand too? When will we understand that it takes an athlete to really stir up major conversation? I’m not hear to speak on what’s right nor wrong, but Kaepernick has done his part. He brought light to real issues. We seem to act as country who has broken from it’s racial discrimination, but in reality it’s still here. It highlights major aspects of our lives and haven’t taken the time to listen to Kaepernick’s real meaning behind the protest. It’s only highlighted that he has “disrespected” America and the Anthem.

That’s why baseball hasn’t seen someone stand. The amount of backlash Kaepernick has received in such a primarily “African American” sport is unreal. Imagine someone in Major League Baseball attempting to do what Kaepernick has done? He’d be eaten alive. Racial prejudice still exists and it is time for it to go.


Featured Photo: Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Legends on Deck. Legends on Deck does respect each writers right to share their opinion and views on any matters especially when facts are presented in a clear and respectful manner.

Steven Cardona

Steven Cardona

Steven is an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida who lives in Naples, Florida. At USF, he is studying Business Management. He has an immense love and passion for the game of baseball. He worked with the Fort Myers Miracle in 2014 as a Public Relations intern. In 2016, he continued his work experiences within America's pastime with the New York Mets as an American Culture Instructor at the Mets Academy in the Dominican Republic.
Steven Cardona