Since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minnesota a few months ago, there has been a lot of discourse about racial injustice throughout the country. That continued on Opening Day when Mookie Betts kneeled during the national anthem.
Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants came together before the anthem to kneel during a moment of silence. Although, once the Star Spangled Banner started playing, it was only Betts and a few Giants players who remained down on a knee.
Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy showed support to their teammate by putting their hands on Betts’ shoulders, which he believes sent a strong message.
“Just unity. Everybody is on the same team. We’re all here for change,” Betts said. “Even the Giants, I definitely tip my cap to them for the support. We have a great group of guys here, we’re all supportive of each other. It definitely doesn’t surprise me that Belli and Muncy were there with me.”
Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick was the first one to kneel as a protest back in 2016 and was strongly criticized for it and even eventually blackballed by the league for it. Betts has a father who served in the military and he originally didn’t support kneeling.
“I wasn’t educated, and that’s my fault. I need to be educated on a situation,” Betts answered when asked what has changed. “I know my dad served, and I’ll never disrespect the flag. But there’s also got to be change in the world. Kneeling has nothing to do with those who served our country. Kneeling is for the injustice.”
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 24, 2020
While there is plenty of more discourse to be had on this topic, Betts concluded that he isn’t certain if he will continue kneeling as he wants to focus more on action.
“I’m not exactly sure. I think kneeling is definitely something that shows we need change. But also I have to put some action into play as far as away from MLB,” he said. “That’s my primary goal. Today was just to unify both teams to show we are here for change.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also has a father that was a member of military, and similar to Betts, originally did not support kneeling during the national anthem before changing view.
While he wasn’t aware that Betts would do it, Roberts was happy to see him take a stand for something he is passionate about. “I’m sure he’s thought a lot about it. I’m proud of him for making that decision,” Roberts said.
“I think it’s understanding that Black lives do matter. Obviously, Major League Baseball, with the wristbands, patches, holding the ribbon, we all wanted to be unified in supporting that. Some people felt that was enough, and with Mookie and some other guys during the anthem, felt compelled to kneel as well. That’s his individual choice.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!