Gabe Kapler observed his own moment of silence before the San Francisco Giants team he leads opened its Memorial Day Weekend series in Cincinnati Friday night. His moment did not come for an anthem or while he was standing at attention on the edge of a dugout.
Instead, it happened on a keyboard as he quietly filtered his own grief and outrage in a fiery blog post under the headline, “Home of the Brave?”
he then tweeted the postdescribing it in one sentence: “We are not at present the land of the free nor the home of the brave.”
“When I was the same age as the kids in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance if I believed my country represented its people well, or to protest and sit down if it didn’t. . I don’t believe it represents us well,” Kapler wrote, adding: “Every time I put my hand on my heart and take off my hat, I’m participating in a complacent glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings are taking place .”
Therefore, as Kapler would later tell reporters in Cincinnati, he no longer plans to be on the field for the pre-game anthems “until I feel better about the direction of our country.” Kapler said he didn’t necessarily expect his protest to “move the needle,” but that he was strong enough to take this step.
After Friday’s game was postponed for just over two hours due to inclement weather, only seven Giants were on the field — two coaches, four players and an athletic trainer — when the national anthem was played. The Giants eventually lost 5-1.
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In his blog post, Kapler said he regretted standing on the field for the national anthem and observed a moment of silence before a game in San Francisco against the Mets this week, just hours after a gunman killed 19 children and two. teachers at Robb Elementary School in Texas. Kapler said he “had trouble articulating my thoughts on the day of the shooting” and that “it sometimes takes a few days to put things together.”
In that way, he’s no different than another Bay Area sports figure who has struggled with the most meaningful way to protest. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, also struggled. He began sitting during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, and after consulting with Nate Boyer, a retired army green beret and former NFL player, began kneeling instead.
For Kaepernick, that protest turned out to have lasting consequences. Despite leading his team to a Super Bowl appearance before, he was not signed after opting out of his contract after the 2016 season. He has only had a few opportunities to train for teams since then. In 2019, he and his former teammate Eric Reid settled a lawsuit against the NFL accusing the league’s teams of colluding against them.
“My brain said drop to one knee; my body wasn’t listening,” Kapler wrote of his whirl of emotions ahead of this week’s Mets-Giants game. “I wanted to walk back in; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to take the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew thousands of people used this game to get a break from the horrors of the world. I knew thousands of others would not understand the gesture and take it as an insult to the military, to veterans, to themselves.”
Kapler’s move continues a steady stream of protests from the sports world this week. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke out strongly for gun control ahead of his team’s Western Conference finals on Tuesday. On Thursday, both the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays used their Twitter and Instagram feeds to post facts about gun violence instead of posting anything about the game between the rival teams.
“We elect our politicians to represent our interests,” Kapler wrote. “Immediately after this shooting we were told that we needed closed doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and that we just need love.
“But we have not been given courage and we are not free,” he wrote. “Police at the scene handcuffed a mother as she begged to go in and save her children. They blocked parents who tried to organize to stop the gunman, including a father who learned that his daughter had been murdered while arguing with police. We will not be free if politicians decide that lobbyists and the arms industry are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without bulletproof backpacks and active target practice.”