Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader won’t be suspended, or even particularly harshly punished, for his old racist and homophobic (among other things) tweets that were discovered Tuesday night while he was pitching in the All-Star Game. Hader apologized for tweets — posted in 2011 and 2012 when he was a teenager — after the game, citing his age and claiming that he had changed since that time.
Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Hader will be required to undergo sensitivity training and take part in the league’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
The MLB statement, as well as one released by the Brewers, largely let Hader off the hook while also trying as hard as possible to make it seem like that’s not what is happening.
Major League Baseball issues statement requiring #Brewers Josh Hader to enroll in diversity and inclusion initiatives. He will not be suspended pic.twitter.com/wDpvfkDzlA— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 18, 2018
The Brewers’ statement whitewashes the situation even further with unsurprisingly vague statements like Hader has “always been a good teammate.”
A statement from Brewers GM David Stearns: pic.twitter.com/Whxhnt2P1Q— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) July 18, 2018
As is the case with anodyne team statements and athlete apologies, it’s difficult to know if any of the above claims are true. There’s also no way to confirm that any such sensitivity training is intended to be effective or just carried out for optics.
Is Hader actually “fully aware of the severity of the situation” or just aware that public expressions of racism, homophobia, and sexism lead to impromptu clubhouse apologies. Is he actually taking full responsibility?
Reading the Brewers’ claim that the timing of the tweets is irrelevant after hearing Hader’s apology specifically rely on his age, it isn’t certain if everyone is on the same page. The team says that the comments are “inexcusable”, but has not yet meted out any punishment on its own.
Next, Hader will go through a program ostensibly built to teach empathy and try to change players’ opinions about the world, but which can’t guarantee either of those things. Hopefully, Hader has already changed as he claims, and the Brewers will work with him throughout the season to make sure he’s actually contrite. Hopefully, Hader understands his luck at only having to participate in a few brief programs, rather than a more longterm series of educational programs, some form of probation, or a suspension.
If not, it doesn’t really matter though does it?
Since he’s a good pitcher with a chance to help his team to the postseason, Hader will likely have a job even if all that comes out of this situation is him learning to mask hateful beliefs. Even if the only lesson learned is how to seem sincerely apologetic, he’ll still have a job and a shot at a World Series ring. Meanwhile, we’ll still have no way to be sure any of the parties involved here actually care about lessons learned. Or if they only care about it appearing that punishment and enlightenment took place.