Sports were once the great unifier of American life. Now, they have become the main battlefield of the culture wars. Libby Krieger writes in The American Spectator (abridged):
Several members and managers of the San Francisco Giants, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, took a knee during the national anthem Monday evening at the team’s exhibition games against the Oakland Athletics.
New Giants manager Gabe Kapler became the first MLB manager to kneel during the national anthem, challenging the relatively apolitical nature of the MLB up to this point.
Prior to Monday, only one MLB player had ever knelt for the anthem. Bruce Maxwell, former Athletics catcher, knelt to protest racial injustice and police brutality back in September 2017, the year after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest.
Kapler, first MLB coach and first head coach of any of the four major North American sports leagues to take a knee, said, “I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country. I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country.”
Kneeling for the national anthem was first popularized by Kaepernick in 2016, and the NFL took steps this summer to support Black Lives Matter, like starting week one games with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the “black national anthem.” Following Kaepernick’s protest, NFL viewership dropped, likely due to the kneeling and broad politicization of the sport.
Fans fled the NFL once they bowed to the Black Lives Matter narrative, and the MLB might “strike out” the same way. Once America’s favorite pastime becomes another political arena, fans may no longer say, “Take me out to the ball game!”