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As the number of NFL players joining Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest grows by the game, the movement has yet to spread to baseball, where players usually stand for the National Anthem and salute the flag six days per week.
Why is that? According to Baltimore Orioles star Adam Jones, it’s a matter of numbers and demographics and the same type of inequality that Kaepernick is speaking out against. Jones said it bluntly to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:
“Baseball is a white man’s sport.”
He’s right that white players in baseball far outnumber African-American players (58.8 percent to 8.3 percent, according to the 2016 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport). The numbers in the NFL are quite different, where African-American players make up 68.7 percent of the league compared to 28.6 percent for white players.
“We already have two strikes against us already,” Jones said, “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.”
According to USA Today’s math, there have been close to 250 MLB games since Kaepernick added a new layer to our ongoing national debate about race and equality. Though, no baseball player has staged a protest, it’s clear in Jones’ comments that the idea has at least been on his mind. He speaks eloquently about the issues at hand. Take this passage about how he feels people of color get marginalized for speaking out about topics such as race:
“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.
“At the end of the day, black men have fought for this right. Indians have fought for this right. White people fought for this right. Mexicans have fought for this right. Japanese have fought this for this right. The United States was not just made up of one race.
“So let’s just not say that in America, only one person can say something. We all have input because America has always been a country that has united everybody.”
Like with the Kaepernick’s protest and commentary, you can be sure Jones’ comments will be met with fiery opposition from people who don’t share his point of view. Before we give in to that knee-jerk urge to tell someone else why we disagree with them, maybe we should pause. Maybe we should consider what Jones is saying and try to understand rather than immediately seeking to clash.
Why is it that someone like Adam Jones — who is by all accounts a good person — feels like his First Amendment rights aren’t equal to someone else’s because of the color of his skin?
Why does he think people like him already have two strikes against them in baseball?
And why in 2016 — 69 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier — does an African-American player still think baseball is a “white man’s sport?”
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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