Following the devastating mass shooting that claimed the lives of 21 people, mostly children, in Uvalde, Texas, the reactions around the sports world have been loud and strong, with some demanding major change from our government over gun safety and gun control.
San Francisco Giants coach Gabe Kapler made perhaps the strongest statement of anyone in the American sports world, penning an emotional blog post in which he said “I am not okay with the state of this country.” He would then go on to say that he would skip the national anthem before MLB games until he can “feel better about the direction of our country.”
“When I was the same age as the children in Uvalde, my father taught me to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn’t,” Kapler wrote. “I don’t believe it is representing us well right now.”
While Kapler’s comments received a lot of praise, one person who doesn’t necessarily agree with his entire plan is Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa.
“I think he’s exactly right to be concerned…with what’s happening in our country,” La Russa said, per ESPN. “He’s right there. Where I disagree is the flag and the anthem are not appropriate places to try to voice your objections.”
The longtime manager feels as though not standing for the national anthem is disrespectful to servicemen and women.
“Some of their courage comes from what the flag means to them and when they hear the anthem,” La Russa said. “You need to understand what the veterans think when they hear the anthem or see the flag. And the cost they paid and their families. And if you truly understand that, I think it’s impossible not to salute the flag and listen to the anthem.”
However, most other MLB managers asked about Kapler’s stance seemed to offer praise, though they all stopped short of joining him in protest.
“I think we’re all frustrated, especially in this country,” Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Nobody’s happy. It’s not about which side you’re on. It’s just we’ve got to get better as a society. … I’m not going to really make comment either way on whether I would or wouldn’t do what he did.”
“He’s a good friend of mine and the kind of guy I respect from afar for what he’s doing, and if this is what he’s doing, good for him,” said Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “I understand his reasons. He was very open about it and I know there’s a lot of people that are going to support him.”
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter said that he respected “how Gabe feels and the way he’s going about it. As far as his choice to not stand for the anthem, he added “that’s Gabe’s decision. That’s all, I’m going to leave it at that.”
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Kapler “a humanitarian,” and he is “very supportive of what Gabe is doing,” adding that he is “not to get involved in that arena. It’s a very, very sad and touchy subject for me.”
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kapler “is very passionate about things he believes in and that’s his way of protesting. … I don’t think any of us are happy with what’s going on in our country. I do respect people using whatever platforms they have to address that.”
It sounds like while Kapler commands a lot of respect from his peers, he likely won’t be joined in any official capacity in his anthem decision.