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Before the Giants faced the Reds on Friday in Cincinnati, Kapler said he wouldn’t participate in any on-field national anthem ceremonies until he could feel better about the country’s direction. He also penned a blog post on his personal website expressing his feelings, titling it “Home of the Brave?”
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Kapler, described in an ESPN profile earlier this month as a “nonconformist,” has taken social stances in the past. He was among a group of Giants that began kneeling during the anthem in 2020. This time, he said, he would merely make himself unavailable during the song in order to avoid perceptions that he was disrespecting the military or other aspects of US society that are represented by the anthem ceremonies.
His protest is not expected to be very visible, as major league teams largely aren’t on the playing field for most of their games. However, that could change if the Giants make the playoffs or if Kapler is a coach at baseball’s mid-summer All-Star Game.
Ironically, Kapler’s national anthem protest comes the same week that the action’s professional sports originator, Colin Kaepernick, received a quaterback tryout with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. Kaepernick started kneeling during the 2016 season when he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers football team to protest what he said were racial injustices.
“We weren’t given bravery, and we aren’t free,” Kapler wrote on his blog on Friday. “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.”
In his post, Kapler also reflected on the shooting as Metallica played the “Star-Spangled Banner” on Wednesday at Oracle Park.
“Every time I place my hand over my heart and remove my hat, I’m participating in a self congratulatory glorification of the ONLY country where these mass shootings take place. On Wednesday, I walked out onto the field, I listened to the announcement as we honored the victims in Uvalde. I bowed my head. I stood for the national anthem. Metallica riffed on City Connect guitars,” Kapler wrote.
Kapler said he felt that he should kneel, but decided against it.
“My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen,” Kapler continued. “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.
“But I am not OK 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.”
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