Gabe Kapler observed his own moment of silence sometime before the San Francisco Giants team he manages opened its Memorial Day Weekend series in Cincinnati on Friday night. His moment didn’t come before a national anthem or while standing to attention on the edge of a canoe.
Instead, it happened on a keyboard as he quietly filtered his own grief and outrage into a fiery blog post titled “Home of the Brave?”
Then he tweeted the messagedescribing it in one sentence: “We are not the land of the free nor the home of the brave right now.”
“When I was the same age as the children of Uvalde, my father taught me to defend the oath of allegiance when I believed that my country represented its people well or to protest and remain seated when it was not not the case. I don’t believe this represents us well,” Kapler wrote, adding, “Every time I place my hand over my heart and take off my hat, I participate in a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place.”
Therefore, as Kapler would later tell reporters in Cincinnati, he no longer intends to be on the field for the pre-game national anthems “until I feel better about directing of our country”. Kapler said he didn’t necessarily expect his protest to “move the needle,” but he felt strong enough to take the step.
In his blog post, Kapler said he regretted standing on the field for the national anthem and observing 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 filming” and that “sometimes for me it takes a few days to set things up”.
In that way, he’s no different than another Bay Area sports personality who struggled with the most meaningful way to protest. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers, has also struggled. He started by sitting down 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, he started to kneel instead.
For Kaepernick, this protest turned out to have lasting consequences. Although he once led his team to a Super Bowl appearance, he was unsigned after opting out of his contract after the 2016 season. He only had the chance to train for teams only a few times since. In 2019, he and his former teammate Eric Reid settled a lawsuit against the NFL in which they accused league teams of colluding against them.
“My brain said drop to one knee; my body didn’t listen,” Kapler wrote of his whirlwind of emotions ahead of this week’s Mets-Giants game. “I wanted to walk inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to take anything away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people used this game to escape the horrors of the world for a bit. I knew that thousands of others would not understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to the veterans, to themselves.
Kapler’s action – temporarily delayed by a rain delay in Cincinnati – continues a steady stream of protests from the sports world this week. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke out forcefully in favor of gun control ahead of his team’s Western Conference final game on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays used their Twitter and Instagram feeds to post facts about gun violence rather than 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 locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love.
“But we have not been given bravery and we are not free,” he wrote. “Police at the scene handcuffed a mother as she begged them to come in and save her children. They blocked the parents trying to arrange to charge in to arrest the shooter, including a father who learned that his daughter was murdered while he was arguing with the cops We are not free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without the need for bulletproof backpacks and active shooting drills.