The NFL is witnessing a movement after Colin Kaepernick started a conversation about race relations by protesting during the national anthem, but Major League Baseball isn’t seeing the same thing. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones isn’t surprised.
“We already have two strikes against us already, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us. Baseball is a white man’s sport.’’
The USA Today article notes that only 8 percent of players in MLB are African-American, compared to 68 percent of players in the NFL and 72 percent in the NBA. Jones has not participated in any protests during the national anthem, but understands Kaepernick’s right to do so.
“He believes in what he believes in, and as a man of faith, as an American who has rights, who am I to say he’s wrong? Kaepernick is not disrespecting the military. He’s not disrespecting people who they’re fighting. What he’s doing is showing that he doesn’t like the social injustice that the flag represents.”
During the opening week of the NFL several players followed Kaepenick’s lead and underwent gestures of their own. Four Miami Dolphins players took a knee on Sunday, Brandon Marshall of the Broncos did the same on Thursday night, while Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, along with Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty of the Patriots raised a fist while standing for the anthem in their respective games.
Meanwhile Jones is outraged at the abuse Kaepernick has received for standing up for what he believes is right.
“I’ve seen Kaepernick called the N-word,’’ Jones said, “just because he’s being sensitive to what has happened to African-Americans in this country. It’s crazy how when people of color speak up, we’re always ridiculed. But when people that are not of color speak up, it’s their right.
“The First Amendment says we have freedom of expression. We’re supposed to be so free, so free. But any time anybody of color speaks up in the United States, for some odd reason, they always get the raw end of the deal. It sucks.”
Critics have claimed protests by NFL players run the gamut from insulting members of the military who fight for America, to slamming the timing of protests, which occurred on Sept. 11. In response, Dolphins running back Arian Foster wanted it to be made clear that while he kneeled with his teammates during the anthem that all four players stood during President Obama’s pregame address, which honored victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, Jones is speaking out against the double standard he sees in how people of color are treated when they speak out vs. other noteworthy figures and how athletes are often told to “stick to sports.”
“The outside world doesn’t really respect athletes,’’ Jones says, “unless they talk about what they want them to talk about. Society doesn’t think we deserve the right to have an opinion on social issues.
“We make a lot of money, so we just have to talk baseball, talk football. But most athletes, especially if you’re tenured in your sport, you’re educated on life, and on more things than most people on the outside. But because Donald Trump is a billionaire, he can say whatever he wants, because he’s older and has more money?”
No MLB player has protested during the national anthem yet. There are three weeks left in the season and then more eyes than ever will be on the sport when the postseason march to the World Series begins. It remains to be seen if players are waiting until the brightest spotlight is on them to take a stand.