Saturday night, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel for the national anthem. Obviously, that will bring a portion of supporters and detractors for and against Maxwell within baseball and the public at large.
One such person who had an issue was LA Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Roberts, like Maxwell, grew up in a military family and took it personally that people were kneeling for the national anthem. That doesn’t mean Roberts is completely against people kneeling if they feel that is what they need to do, he just would like people to be educated about things and for them to think about what they’re doing.
“Personally, yeah, I’d have a problem,” he said, “because my father served this country for 30 years and I understand – I can appreciate any player’s individual, however they act, and that’s personal. But I would just ask every person to really be educated. When you make a point, something like that – and it’s been in baseball. It’s been in sports. But the thing is, really think long and hard, and really be educated on why you’re doing what you’re doing. After that it’s each individual player’s decision.”
Despite this not actually being a protest against the troops, Roberts’ comments shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed as someone completely against the anthem protests. If he is against the protests, then I guess he doesn’t need to change anything. But if he is telling the truth in being okay with a player deciding to protest after being educated, Roberts could have explained this a bit better and his comments wouldn’t be taken in a way he didn’t expect.
I agree with Roberts when he wants players to be educated before protesting and whether you are for or against what is going on, that is a great mindset to have no matter what is being discussed. It’s just that Roberts’ comments can be taken in a way where he’s only telling those who are protesting to be educated before protesting and not telling those who still have the mindset that it’s a protest against the flag and the troops to be educated and realize this is actually a peaceful protest on brutality and racial inequality and using their platform as pro athletes to reach millions of people to discuss something that needs to be discussed. To many people, being educated on what is and has been going on may cause people to actually support the protests and do something themselves. So in that way, that could make the movement stronger.
But only telling one side that they need to be educated is where Roberts misses the mark. It’s important to be educated before doing or saying anything but giving one side a free pass and not the other says something else whether that was the intent or not.