The recent surge of national anthem protests in sports has polarised the nation, but at least Bruce Maxwell knows his hometown fans are on his side.
While NFL and NBA players have grown increasingly vocal on issues of racial inequality, MLB players have remained relatively quiet. On Saturday, Maxwell, a catcher for the Oakland Athletics, attempted to break that silence, dropping to one knee during the national anthem before a game against the Texas Rangers.
While some derided Maxwell’s gesture, many people supported it. On Monday night, the Alabama native made his first plate appearance since he began to kneel and received a nice ovation from the home crowd at the Oakland Coliseum.
Watch the moment below:
That reception may seem tame compared to some of the other crowd reactions we’ve seen over the years, but keep in mind that the Athletics have been eliminated from postseason contention and play in one of the most poorly regarded stadiums in the league. The cheers for Maxwell dwarfed all others in the 7-1 loss to Seattle.
While Maxwell got a nice reaction from his fans, others have spoken out against him. The backstop responded over the weekend, clarifying the meaning behind his protest.
“The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military,” he said, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com. “It’s not to disrespect our constitution. It’s not to disrespect our country. My hand was over my heart because I love this country. I’ve had plenty of family members, including my father, that have bled for this country, that continue to serve for this country … But my kneeling is what is getting the attention, because I’m kneeling for the people who don’t have a voice.”
Maxwell has received support from around the league. Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer, one of just 62 African American players to start this season on an MLB roster, said that the protest was “as respectful as possible.”
“It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it,” Archer said, per Gabe Lacques of USA Today.
Maxwell hasn’t been the only one to protest in the Coliseum. On Monday, an entire marching band from the Oakland Unified School District dropped to one knee while playing the national anthem.
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