The Major League Baseball season started this week but not without controversy from among many players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem to silently protest police brutality against black lives in America. A protest that was made famous by NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick in 2016, after retired Green Beret Nate Boyer suggested that kneeling (instead of sitting on the bench while the anthem was playing) was more respectful to former and current U.S. military members.
While it was frowned upon by the MLB in seasons past, due to the recent events this year and regarding a police incident that involved the killing of George Floyd, professional sports have changed their stances on allowing players to demonstrate peacefully by kneeling during the National Anthem. Not only is it allowed it is encouraged and praised, as well as providing players with social justice patches to wear on their jerseys in support of Black Lives Matter.
The season opener against the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers saw they entire Giants team, including coaches take a knee during the anthem aside from one player. Pitcher Sam Coonrod stood alone while holding the unity ribbon provided by the league while all his other teammates knelt.
When asked why the relief pitcher didn’t kneel, he responded, “I’m a Christian. So I just believe that I can’t kneel before anything besides God.” The relief pitcher also added that he, “can’t get on board with a couple of things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean towards Marxism and… they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.” Coonrod said he doesn’t have any ‘ill will’ for those that have knelt or decide to do so.
Coonrod expressed that he wished he could have addressed his teammates prior to the moment of team unity, but only learned about it minutes before it happened.
Giants’ manager Gabe Kapler said, “The one thing that we said is we were going to let people express themselves…we’re going to give them a choice to stand, kneel, or do something else.” Manager Kapler said that he respected Coonrod’s decision to stand. Coonrod said, “He’s (referring to manger Kapler) not going to get mad if I disagree with him…that’s part of the problem nowadays. People get mad whenever someone disagrees.”
The Giants’ pitcher was asked ‘Why Jesus?’ during a fellowship day last year, “If Christianity is true, it would be the single most important thing in the entire universe. Meaning that we are guilty of sin, and we all deserve to go to hell because God is perfect. The Bible says that if you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus, God will save you. It also says that verily, verily I say unto thee that unless you repent you will all perish. Ten out of ten people die. You’re dead a lot longer than you’re alive, so you really need to know where you are going when you die.”