In the region where Colin Kaepernick became the first player to take a knee in protest of police brutality against African American, Gabe Kapler became the first baseball manager to make the same gesture.
Kapler, manager of the San Francisco Giants, knelt during the Star Spangled Banner before his team’s preseason game in Oakland against the A’s.
Jaylin Davis and Antoan Richardson and Mike Yastrzemski joined Kapler during the anthem. Yastrzemski, who is a graduate of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, is the grandson of Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
Many players are expected to make statements and gestures during the 2020 seasons following George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota. Floyd, who was handcuffed, was killed when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck until the 46-year-old lost conscious. The incident, which was captured on video, sparked outrage that led to protests and demonstrations nationwide. Amongst the protesters and those who sympathized with their cause, Kaepernick has been embraced as a hero.
That’s a significant change from 2016 when the then San Francisco 49ers quarterback was the most controversial figure in sports. He spent that season protesting the violence by police against Blacks by kneeling during national anthem. That protest that made him a divisive figure and even a talking point during the 2016 presidential campaign. Then candidate Donald Trump often railed against him and other players who followed his lead.
Kaepernick settled a lawsuit out of court with the NFL, after alleging the league colluded against him to prevent him from signing with another team he left the 49ers. He worked out for teams late in 2019, but did not sign or receive an offer. Despite rumblings that he might get an offer during this offseason, he remain unsigned.
The gesture by Kapler and the Giants players is the latest notable sports development the the nation’s evolving approach to racial issues.
Since sports shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic:
- The NFL has reversed its position and will allow players to protest during the anthem
- The NBA has encouraged its players to use their platform during the restart to raise awareness of issues related to racial injustice and has painted “Black Lives Matter” on the courts they’ll play on in Orlando.
- Countless athletes in all sports took part in Black Lives Matter marches.
- NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at all events.
- The Washington NFL team announced they planned to change their name, retiring the long-controversial Redskins.
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