What started with National Football League free agent Colin Kaepernick last year has become a trend in professional sports. By kneeling during the National Anthem, Kaepernick ignited a national firestorm over his actions and why he did it. Kaepernick viewed his display as an act of social justice warfare that brings awareness to racial issues he believes in. Opponents to him and his actions viewed his behavior as a disrespectful act against the country and those who keep it free.
The act has spread beyond the NFL, and now has reached Major League Baseball. Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel during the National Anthem at a game this past weekend, indicating now that sports are no longer safe from politicization.
Maxwell, who was born on a military installation in Germany while his father served in the U.S. Army, indicated this was his way to give a voice to those without one. Like Kaepernick and his supporters, he believes this is a way to bring awareness. He insists that his protest was not anti-American in the slightest.
“The point of my kneeling was not to disrespect our military or our constitution or our military,” Maxwell said. “My hand was over my heart because I love this country… I’m kneeling for the people who don’t have a voice.”
The team backed their player 100 percent after his controversial protest.
“The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive. We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression,” the team said in a statement.
Major League Baseball issued a separate statement about how they honor the country before each game, but stand by each players’ right to their opinions.
Athletics players and coaches were reportedly supportive of Bruce Maxwell’s actions, but it remains to be seen if other teammates or Major Leaguers elsewhere will join him.