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San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler will no longer take the field for the national anthem after the horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that has sparked new debate over gun control and the role of the police in America.
Speaking with reporters before a game against the Cincinnati Reds, Kapler said he would only start coming out for the anthem if he felt "better about the direction of our country."
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country” – Gabe Kapler pic.twitter.com/J1MdlVL3XI
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 27, 2022
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country. That’ll be the step. I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily, it’s just something I feel strongly enough about to take that step."
Kapler has protested during the national anthem in the past, taking a knee with four of his players in a 2020 preseason game following the murder of George Floyd.
Earlier in the day, Kapler published a 729-word post titled "Home of the Brave?" on his personal Kaplifestyle blog reacting to the shooting and discussing his own feelings about patriotically standing for the anthem immediately after a moment of silence for the killing of 19 children and two teachers.
Kapler heavily criticized "police officers who had weapons and who receive nearly 40% of the city’s funding" for failing to stop the shooter from killing children for an hour as their parents pleaded for the police to intervene. He also blasted politicians who suggested "locked doors and armed teachers" could solve the problem.
Above all, Kapler expressed frustration with being expected to celebrate a country that has seen little meaningful change after so many mass shootings:
I’m often struck before our games by the lack of delivery of the promise of what our national anthem represents. We stand in honor of a country where we elect representatives to serve us, to thoughtfully consider and enact legislation that protects the interests of all the people in this country and to move this country forward towards the vision of the “shining city on the hill.” But instead, we thoughtlessly link our moment of silence and grief with the equally thoughtless display of celebration for a country that refuses to take up the concept of controlling the sale of weapons used nearly exclusively for the mass slaughter of human beings. We have our moment (over and over), and then we move on without demanding real change from the people we empower to make these changes. We stand, we bow our heads, and the people in power leave on recess, celebrating their own patriotism at every turn.
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.
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.
Kapler told reporters he was "having a hard time articulating my thoughts the day of the shooting" and needed a couple days to put it together, hence why he initially stood for the anthem.
The 46-year-old Kapler, who played 12 seasons in the majors, is in his first third season as Giants manager, having previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies. He isn't the first Bay Area sports figure to speak up, as Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr blasted Republican lawmakers for blocking a background check bill soon after the shooting.