In a gesture of support for Black Lives Matter, all baseball players from the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees clutched a long black cloth and took a knee for around 20 seconds on Thursday, before standing for the national anthem.
With no fans in the stands on the official Opening Day of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season, delayed by four months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the players knelt after a pre-recorded message read out by actor Morgan Freeman was played, calling for players to “lead the charge” and to “level the playing field.”
None of the players at Nationals Park knelt while the national anthem was played, in contrast to earlier in the week, when some members of the Giants and Angels took a knee during the anthem prior to an exhibition game. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick initiated the practice of kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 as a protest against police brutality.
Kneeling during the anthem has sparked opposition, especially among conservatives, including President Donald Trump, who has been forceful in denouncing the gesture as disrespectful and an inappropriate venue for protest.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National threw the first pitch at the game that launched the MLB season, delayed due to the pandemic.
“To have everyone kneel at the same time, it was to give hope to any overall reason you want to do it,” said Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees after the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Nationals, in a statement to USA Today. “For me, it’s for the racial injustice and black lives in general. And a lot of other things going on. We all have individual reasons to do so.
“I believe with everything we did beforehand, wearing the Black Lives Matter T-shirts, the patches and the unity ceremony before, that’s what was decided,” Stanton added.
In a post ahead of Thursday’s game, MLB published photographs of players wearing t-shirts with the Black Lives Matter logo, while another photo showed the pitcher’s mound featuring the MLB logo, but with the letters switched to read BLM, understood to be the acronym for Black Lives Matter.
The Washington Nationals, the reigning World Series champions, posted photos of some of their players wearing t-shirts with Black Lives Matter on them, captioning the photo, “Playing for more than ourselves.”
Some Twitter users expressed support, others opposition.
“awesome. love the players using their right to protest and they’re doing it peacefully too! sets great examples to stand up for what you believe in,” wrote one Twitter user.
“No one wants politics with their baseball. Just go play,” another user wrote.
Rudy Giuliani wrote in a tweet, “Support for BLM, which is provoking attacks on our law enforcement and innocent people all over America, is disgraceful.”
Black Lives Matter is a divisive organization that doesn’t belong in sports, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who co-owns the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream, said recently.
“This is a very divisive organization based on Marxist principles,” Loeffler said in an appearance on the “Ingraham Angle.”
“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable,” Black Lives Matter Global Network writes on its website.
Two of the three BLM co-founders are self-described Marxists, followers of theories that stem from Karl Marx’s teachings. Marx is known as the founder of communism.
In a newly surfaced interview, Patrisse Cullors did in 2015, she said of herself and co-founder Alicia Garza: “We do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia, in particular, are trained organizers; we are trained Marxists. We are supervised on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think what we really try to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folks.”
Black Lives Matter Global Network didn’t respond to an earlier request for comment.