From Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s emotional news conference to San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler’s decision to stay at the clubhouse during the national anthem, the sports world this week saw many of the tragic grade-school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. Respond in a way.
The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays provided statistics on gun violence during a game on Thursday, instead posting batting averages and game highlights on their Twitter accounts. And on Saturday, five of Chicago’s most prominent professional teams – the Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bears and Bulls – donated $300,000 to the Robb School Memorial Fund and the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation in collaboration with the McCormick Foundation.
Everyone agrees that something must be done to prevent such tragedies from happening again. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to state the obvious – that America’s gun laws need to be changed to prevent an 18-year-old from buying an assault rifle and committing mass murder.
The five teams, which call themselves the Sports Alliance of Chicago, are to be commended for donating money to victims’ families and an anti-gun violence advocacy group.
I just wish they took it a step further and called for sensible gun reform, as other organizations have done.
“Our focus on this gift was empathy for victims and support for an agency that works to reduce these instances in the future,” said Scott Reifert, executive vice president of the White Sox. “And this decision (on giving a message on gun laws) was left to different organizations in the course of their giving.”
Cubs vice president Julian Green said the Sports Alliance has addressed gun violence in Chicago in the past and it “makes sense to leverage the power of this organization to try to make an impact on these issues.” But no spokesperson would commit to sending a message about gun reform, which could have an even bigger impact.
As always the NBA has led. Before a playoff game against the Boston Celtics last week in Miami, the Heat public-address announcer told fans: “The Heat urges you to contact your state senators by calling 202-224-3121 so that common sense gun May a message be left seeking their support for the law.” And ahead of Thursday’s Warriors-Dallas Mavericks playoff game at the Chase Center in San Francisco, an announcement was made advocating for “sensible gun laws in America.”
It came after Kerr’s speech on Tuesday in which he asked rhetorically: “When are we going to do something? I am so tired of getting up here and expressing my condolences to the devastated families out there. I’m tired of excuses. I’m tired of the moments of silence. enough.”
Kapler responded with an angrily blog post stating that America is “not the land of the free nor the home of the brave” and then declared that he would not “until I feel better about my country”. Until then, he would not stand for the anthem.”
This is a sensitive subject to be sure. Saturday was in fact so sensitive that White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he would react to Kapler’s stance only after members of the media promised that “whatever I say is reported, contextualised.” Nothing is taken out of it.”
It was an unnecessary request – not to mention an insult – but we agreed nonetheless.
La Russa said he “respects” Kapler as a person and manager and was “absolutely right to be concerned” about the issues facing the country.
“Where I disagree is that the flag and anthem are not appropriate places to express your objections,” La Russa continued. “I think you get to the point that really bothers you about the direction of the country.”
La Russa called it a “mistake” by Kapler to draw attention to the national anthem and flag protesting the incident in Texas. He advised people to “understand what they think when they hear the national anthem or the flag and the costs they pay and their families pay during the war”.
“But it’s not a flag, and it’s not an anthem,” he said, before recalling his pride of watching a documentary on the Dream Team draped in the American flag after winning the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
“I thought, ‘Man, this is the anthem, this is the flag,'” he said. “And that’s all right in this country, and you have the right to dislike or oppose what you want. … I agree with (Kapler) – a lot is wrong – but I would never stand for the national anthem Nor do I salute the flag.”
However, several White Sox players did the same to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020. Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Eloy Jiménez and Lucas Giolito, along with coaches Joe McEwing and Daryl Boston, take a knee before a game against the Minnesota Twins at Sox Park.
And, like Kapler, he was not disrespecting the Giants with his stance. They were sending messages against racism and police brutality. It was a moment that many of us will always remember.
Cubs president Jade Hoyer, who has known and respected Kapler for years, said he was “proud” of the manager for taking a stance. Hoyer said that baseball, like other sports, can bring about change in a changing society.
“What Ray and the Yankees did on social media the other night was great,” he said. “(Five) Chicago teams made their donation and their statement was great. I think we’re seeing it, whether it’s MLB as a whole or individual teams or individual people, there’s definitely room for that.”
“I think sports in general have a bigger audience and so that can make a difference. …It’s a good start.”
Yes, it was a good start, and congratulations to the Chicago teams for helping the victims.
But until more organizations follow the path of Heat and Warriors and advocate for sensible gun laws in this country, we’ll probably be back where we started.
Donating money is well and good, but it’s time for everyone to take a stand.