The latest season of Major League Baseball (MLB) kicked off this week after a months-long delay due to the Coronavirus, which is still majorly affecting the season, since no fans were present — it was just the teams. Before the main season’s first game, which was on Thursday night and featured the New York Yankees squaring off against the Washington Nationals, every player on both sides took a knee on the field for about 20 seconds prior to the pre-game broadcast of the national anthem. President Donald Trump himself has complained about the practice of taking a knee, but the gesture, which was spearheaded by Colin Kaepernick in the NFL, is meant to bring attention to issues of societally-embedded racism in the United States.
Nationals and Yankees take a knee for about 20 seconds before anthem. pic.twitter.com/rLaauXGzTj
— Gabe Lacques (@GabeLacques) July 23, 2020
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle commented:
‘It was emotional. I thought it was powerful. It was important for us and for the Yankees that everybody bought in. Holding the ribbon and kneeling. To show support for athletes that have done it in other sports, and so far in baseball. To show support for the movement about Black Lives Matter and ending police brutality and racism and injustice.’
The baseball players clutched a long black ribbon while kneeling, which helped drive in the concept of the unity among the players. Thursday’s MLB Opening Day came, of course, amidst a nationwide outpouring of outrage over police brutality and other vestiges of societally-embedded racism against black Americans.
The protest gesture of taking a knee prior to the start of sports games has been in use for awhile. President Trump has never acknowledged the gesture’s significance. Instead, he’s ranted that those taking a knee are supposedly disrespecting the American flag — as if a piece of cloth is more important than the lives of black Americans.
Just recently, he tweeted:
‘Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!’
He focuses on the mostly mid-anthem kneeling, but all of it seems to irritate him.
Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2020