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Gabe Kapler to skip national anthem until he 'feels better about the direction of our country'

The 46-year-old said he wanted to avoid 'a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place.'

Gabe Kapler to skip national anthem until he 'feels better about the direction of our country'
Cover Image Source: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the San Francisco Giants looks on before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at the Nationals Park on April 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Friday that he intends to forgo the pregame U.S. national anthem "going forward," following the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. According to CNN, speaking in the dugout of the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, ahead of his team's game against the Cincinnati Reds, Kapler said: "I don't plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country." The 2021 National League Manager of the Year later wrote on his website that he'd "wanted to walk back inside" on Wednesday when the teams held a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Uvalde mass shooting to avoid "a self-congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place."


"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," Kapler shared. "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."


Kapler followed through on his earlier instinct on Friday night and stayed off the field during the anthem. This act, he explained in his blog, was inspired by his father's instructions "to stand for the pledge of allegiance when I believed my country was representing its people well or to protest and stay seated when it wasn't. I don't believe it is representing us well right now." Speaking of his gesture, the 46-year-old said: "I don't expect it to move the needle necessarily. It's just something that I feel strongly enough about to take that step." 


"We elect our politicians to represent our interests. Immediately following this shooting, we were told we needed locked doors and armed teachers. We were given thoughts and prayers. We were told it could have been worse, and we just need love," Kapler wrote. "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. 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."


He told reporters that he needed several days to arrange his thoughts on the issue and articulate them to others. "I knew that I was not in my best space mentally and I knew that it was in connection with some of the hypocrisy of standing for the national anthem and how it coincided with the moment of silence and how those two things didn't sync up well for me, but I wasn't quite sure, I couldn't make sense of it in real-time," Kapler said. "And it took me a couple of days to pull all my thoughts together and to be able to articulate them clearly. Sometimes that happens for me."


On Monday, however, Kapler suspended his decision to avoid the field during the national anthem in recognition of Memorial Day. "Today, I'll be standing for the anthem," he wrote on his blog. "While I believe strongly in the right to protest and the importance of doing so, I also believe strongly in honoring and mourning our country's servicemen and women who fought and died for that right. Those who serve in our military, and especially those who have paid the ultimate price for our rights and freedoms, deserve that acknowledgment and respect, and I am honored to stand on the line today to show mine." According to KOVR, Kapler said he was not ready to announce whether his protest will resume on Tuesday night. 

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