Listen. Please. Just, listen.
You don’t have to change your mind. You don’t have to agree with what is being said by the baseball players who decided not to play on Wednesday night — six full teams and other individual players across the league — joining athletes in other sports across the country who stood up by sitting down and taking an evening to press pause.
But maybe, just listen. For a change of pace, if nothing else. Listen to their pain. Listen to their anguish. Listen to their frustration. Listen to their humanity, their hurting.
Listen to Mookie Betts. Listen to Dee Gordon. Listen to Jack Flaherty. Listen to Jason Heyward. Nothing will be solved in one night, or even one year, but listening without talking would be the tiniest of small steps in the right direction.
Save your knee-jerk, company-line talking-point retorts for another day. They’ll be just as pointless, self-serving and harmful then, I promise.
I know you probably don’t like when your sports and politics mix. But the days of them staying separate are over, and they’re never coming back. Athletes are people now, not just performers.
And you’ve seen them perform on the baseball field, playing their hardest, to the best of their abilities. You’ve been entertained by their successes, anguished by their failures — or the other way around if they play for your rival’s favorite team. You’ve watched them for years.
Now, listen to them. For at least one night. I’m not even going to say you owe it to them, because what does that really mean? It’s not an obligation.
But maybe just listen, this one time anyway.
I know, it’s a lot to ask. We don’t have national conversations much anymore, not nearly as much as we have national shouting matches. It’s a top-down problem. We don’t listen to what’s being said by those on the opposite side, we just wait for them to shut up so our yelling isn’t as drowned out.
It’s the same cycle, over and over. The same tired excuses and talking points are spouted. The same bots dominate as much of Twitter as possible.
But this moment, this is different. It’s not that the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., is necessarily unique or more horrific than other incidents around the country — and isn’t that kind of the point, that the same things keeps happening, over and over?
This moment is different because sports stopped around the country on Wednesday night. And not just the NBA or WNBA — two leagues with better track records of speaking up on social and race issues — but baseball, too.
Three baseball games — the Reds vs. Brewers, the Mariners vs. Padres and the Dodgers vs. Giants — that were supposed to be played were not played, protests led by Black ballplayers who made a stand, and the teammates who supported them.
They stopped playing because this is important to them. They’re hoping that people will listen, hoping that people will hear and maybe even take it to heart.
Maybe that’s too much to ask. It’s been a draining, pandemic-ravaged year, and I’m not naive enough to think that every heart is open to change at this particular moment in time.
Listen to what they’re saying. Try to silence the voice in your head that automatically seems to kick on when your beliefs are at all challenged, the “What about” or “Yeah, but …” or any of the roadblocks to change.
For one night, at least, just listen.
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