MLB players union issues strongly worded statement supporting player protests

On Saturday, Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics became the first MLB player to kneel during the national anthem. Several of Maxwell’s teammates publicly supported his decision and his action, as did other players around baseball. The Athletics also released a statement in support of Maxwell.

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On Monday, the MLB Players Association released a statement of its own, and pulled no punches.

Here’s the full text of the MLBPA’s statement:

“We will always respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression. Unless or until there is a commitment to have a discussion about the issues why wouldn’t those who are impassioned, have a platform and have a voice, offer those concerns? the hope inherent in the non-violent protests we are seeing is of a collective coming together to address the divisive and culturally destructive challenges that exist… and that we are now seeing on display at the highest levels.”

Oakland Athletics’ Mark Canha (20) places his hand on the shoulder of Bruce Maxwell as Maxwell takes a knee during the national anthem prior to a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

That statement is strongly supportive of Maxwell — and of any player who chooses to protest — and the motivation behind his protest. Compare the MLBPA’s statement to the statement released by Major League Baseball on Sunday:

“Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together.”

The two statements are nearly opposites of each other. The MLBPA’s statement was very specifically supportive of Maxwell and other players who might choose to protest. MLB’s statement was pretty milquetoast, not really supporting anything.

Maxwell is the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem, but he won’t be the last. And the MLB Players Association has made it clear: Maxwell and whoever comes after him has the full and vocal support of the MLBPA.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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