The sports world is reacting with anger to the mass shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, which left 19 schoolchildren and two teachers dead. San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler’s decision to skip the pregame U.S. national anthem going forward is bound to spark another furious debate concerning the most divisive bit of Americana of our times.
Kapler has said he won’t participate in the anthem, as act of protest over gun violence in the United States. Unlike Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 and hasn’t played in the NFL since that time—though he had a workout with the Las Vegas Raiders this week—Kapler isn’t sitting or kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner. He says he’ll just stay away from the field, indefinitely, until “I feel better about the direction of our country.”
“I’m often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents,” Kapler wrote on his personal blog. “We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the ‘shining city on the hill.’ But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for 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. After having our moments, we continue to move along without demanding any real changes from those we have empowered. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn.”
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“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place.”
Kapler’s gesture has already received the predictable blowback. “San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler is the latest ingrate to disrespect our flag and proud nation,” wroteSid Rosenberg is co-host on the Bernie and Sid radio show on WABC New York City. Follow him on Twitter. “This coming days away from most Americans celebrating our best’s heroism on Memorial Day. He should pick up Kaepernick in his fancy car & leave the country today. Get out Gabe!”
For some, their outrage at Kapler will no doubt scream louder than their calls for tighter control regulations, like we’ve see in countries like Australia and Japan, where rates of gun violence are much lower than the United States. He’ll be accused of virtue signaling, and of being self-serving. Kapler has done everything his way. A recent ESPN article called him an “inveterate experimenter and a devoted nonconformist.” Kapler, who spent a dozen years playing in the majors, used 148 different lineups a year ago: the Giants won 107 games. He’s surely the only manager to receive a question about his devotion to coconut oil at an introductory press conference. He was the son of civil rights activists parents.
Kapler admitted that his action is unlikely to “move the needle” on gun legislation. In a time when Uvalde is in national mourning, Kapler reminded the country that patriotism could come in any form.
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