San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Friday he will refuse to take the field for the national anthem in protest of government inaction on gun violence following Tuesday’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Texas.
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country,” Kapler said in Cincinnati ahead of the Giants’ series opener against the Reds. “I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily, it’s just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step.”
Kapler, a former professional baseball player who has managed the Giants since 2020, elaborated on his protest in a Friday blog post. He reflected on the sports world’s immediate reaction to an 18-year-old gunman killing 19 elementary school students and two teachers.
“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,” Kapler wrote. “We didn’t stop to reflect on whether we are actually free and brave after this horrific event, we just stood at attention.”
Kapler said he felt “like a coward” for not taking a knee or leaving the field during the anthem.
“I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity,” he wrote.
Kapler’s demonstration echoes past actions by professional athletes, most famously former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided to kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice. Anthem protests in support of Black Lives Matter became more widespread following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. (Kapler himself became the first Major League Baseball manager to kneel during the anthem in July 2020.)
Others in professional sports have spoken out on gun violence in the days since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
On Thursday, the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays opted out of sharing scores and key moments from the teams’ matchup and instead dedicated their Twitter accounts to distributing statistics about gun violence. The Rays also announced a $50,000 donation to Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading advocacy group pushing for gun control.
And on Tuesday, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr made an impassioned plea for reform ahead of game four of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
“It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough,” Kerr said before storming out of the press conference.