There’s something about being involved with professional sports in the San Francisco Bay Area that demands one exhibit maximum sanctimonious self-righteousness at all possible opportunities. In addition to the patron saint of pseudo-self sacrifice Colin Kaepernick, we saw it on May 24th when, in lieu of discussing how his Golden State Warriors were going to try and sweep the Dallas Mavericks that evening en route to the NBA Western Conference title and a date in the NBA Finals against either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr went into a diatribe about Uvalde. Now, we have San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler popping off on his blog about his sudden allergy to The Star-Spangled Banner because of, you guessed it, Uvalde.
Trying to follow Kapler’s logic in this matter is quite headache-inducing, but we’ll give it a go.
The day 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered, we held a moment of silence at sporting events around the country, then we played the national anthem, and we went on with our lives.
Players, staff and fans stood for the moment of silence, grieving the lives lost, and then we (myself included) continued to stand, proudly proclaiming ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave. We didn’t stop to reflect on whether we are actually free and brave after this horrific event, we just stood at attention.
The exact connection between an anti-social murderous psychopath and whether America is indeed the land of the free and the home of the brave escapes me. By the way, Gabe, if you’re wondering about the brave part, might I introduce you to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent Jacob Albarado.
But we weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free. The police on the scene put a mother in handcuffs as she begged them to go in and save her children. They blocked parents trying to organize to charge in to stop the shooter, including a father who learned his daughter was murdered while he argued with the cops.
Well, at least he got that part right.
We aren’t free when politicians decide that the lobbyist and gun industries are more important than our children’s freedom to go to school without needing bulletproof backpacks and active shooter drills.
Nice hyperbole. And an utter lie. Name one politician who values the NRA over children’s lives. One.
I’m often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents. We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the “shining city on the hill.” But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings. We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn.
Thoughtless? Really, Gabe?
There is already an oversized supply shipload of laws restricting various gun sales. They do nothing to stop crime. As tragic as Uvalde is, as of May 23rd in Chicago, there have been 218 murders. 218. In one city. A city with highly restrictive gun laws. And you’re losing it over one madman?
Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place.
Other than Norway in 2011, New Zealand in 2019, Australia in 1996, England in 2010 … shall I continue?
And now, Kapler’s capper.
On Wednesday, I walked out onto the field, I listened to the announcement as we honored the victims in Uvalde. I bowed my head. I stood for the national anthem. Metallica riffed on City Connect guitars.
My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen. I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to take 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 were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn’t understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves.
But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.
So not performing a meaningless gesture that, yes, would have been an offense committed against the military and veterans, especially with Memorial Day fast approaching, makes you a coward, Gabe? No. A post-event self-pitying whine does that quite nicely.
No one — No. One. — is okay with what happened in Uvalde. Everyone wants answers. How did the madman afford his weapons? Why didn’t the mandatory background check reveal how deeply disturbed he was? Why did the police not act? Why were all the signs missed or ignored? These are the questions needing truth and solutions to prevent, or at the least make far more unlikely, such evil to again transpire.
Grandstanding when it comes to guns is nothing new. Wasting our time by using your position as a high-profile sportsperson to ramble off the stock issue inane inanities over devastating tragedy isn’t new either. No one denies a sports figure their right to express an opinion. However, they don’t get a free pass either when they spout off stupid stuff.