Be it on a baseball field or walking down a suburban street, there’s absolutely no excuse for racism in 2017.
The world we live in has forever suffered from, and continually been set-back by intolerant arseholes who believe they’re superior to other human beings simply due to their race or colour of their skin. From rival ancient tribes, through the dark days of slavery, and during many conflicts and world wars, racism has continually been the cause of great angst and divide, and it’s horrible, and sad, to think that it can still exist in this day and age.
Boston, the geographical home of many great American universities and a city which its resident oft claim themselves to be the most progressive and liberal of citizens, lowered its colors on Monday night following a series of horrendous actions from one (or multiple) baseball fans.
For those still unaware, in the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-2 win over the Boston Red Sox, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones – one of baseball’s most recognizable and respected players – was the latest athlete to fall victim to racial vilification. This came in the form of verbal abuse, where he was called the ‘N-word’ on numerous occasions, as well as having a bag of peanuts thrown at him. Both actions, needless to say, are unforgivable and deserving of a life ban for the culprit(s).
Shortly after details of the incident became known, veteran New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia noted that Jones isn’t the only African-American player who has dealt with such horrible treatment when playing in Boston. As reported on Sporting News, Sabathia told Newsday Sports’ Erik Boland that he too has experienced similar harassment from Red Sox fans in the past, and that he, one of just 62 (8.3%) African-American players on MLB opening day rosters, wasn’t surprised to hear Jones’ story.
While racism unfortunately exists in all facets of life, for many generations now, sport has peculiarly been a stage where it often rears its ugly head. Be it through drunkenness, frustration, jealousy, or sheer ignorance and intolerance, there’s still a minority of sport fans in existence who believe behaviors such as these will be accepted in such an environment.
How wrong they are.
Proof of this has come in abundance these past 24 hours as news of Jones’ ordeal circulated throughout social media.
— Jim Palmer (@Jim22Palmer) May 2, 2017
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) May 2, 2017
Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, of African-American decent himself, turned to Twitter on Tuesday to voice his concerns over the incident and throw his support behind Jones:
— Mookie Betts (@mookiebetts) May 2, 2017
Echoing Betts’ thoughts were Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team president Sam Kennedy, who each met with the Orioles center fielder on Tuesday to assure him they are taking steps to prevent such incidents occurring again. One possible solution being mooted is lifetime bans for any fan found to be racially intolerant. Commenting on the incident further, Kennedy said:
“We want to make sure that our fans know, and the Boston market knows, that offensive language, racial taunts, slurs are unacceptable. If you do it, you’re going to be ejected. If you do it, you’re going to be subject to having your tickets revoked for a year, maybe for life. We’re going to look at that. We haven’t made any firm decisions, but it just can’t happen.”
Later on Tuesday night, in the second game of the series, Bostonians in attendance collectively apoligized for the behavior of their fellow fan(s) by greeting Jones with a standing ovation in the first inning. While the crowd applauded, numerous Red Sox players also joined in supporting Jones, including Betts, who applauded Jones from the outfield as he strode to the batter’s box. Pitcher Chris Sale also stepped off the mound to allow for a longer reception. It was a classy move from an organization under fire.
Following Tuesday night’s game, which the Red Sox ultimately won 5-2 to level the 4-game series, Jones was full of praise for the Red Sox and their fans.
“Much appreciated. It was also much appreciated by the Boston Red Sox and MLB getting ahead of it. Appreciative that action was taken, and that not everybody feels the same way as selected people. I appreciate what the fans did. I have never on the road gotten any ovations or anything like that, so it just caught me off guard a little bit. Sale, who works extremely fast, took his time and let the ovation relish a little bit, so I appreciate the sentiment.”
Orioles Manager Buck Showalter was also full of praise for the Red Sox organization and its fans.
“I thought it was great. I was telling somebody it would have been apropos for him to get the ovation, hit a home run, then boo him going around the bases, so we get the whole gamut. Sale was not going to let that happen.” (Sale struck Jones out)
While the action taken by the Red Sox organization, its players, and their fans are to be commended, the incident never should have occurred. Sabathia’s comments following the slur are also important to note, highlighting that this was not a once-off incident and quite possibly, more education needs to occur within the Boston market. Further supporting this claim is Kalhan Rosenblatt and Alex Johnson’s latest piece for NBC, which notes that David Price and Carl Crawford, among others, have also been subjected to racial slurs while playing in Boston in recent years.
While Boston certainly isn’t the only team in professional sports to have a poor history of visit poster’s website such events, this latest incident once again highlights that more needs to be done by sporting and community leaders to stamp this behavior out once and for all.