Adam Jones has never been afraid to speak his mind on baseball or social issues.
So it wasn’t shocking to see the Baltimore Orioles star—and one of the most high-profile African-American stars in Major League Baseball—weigh in on Colin Kaepernick’s protest and the wave of support he’s received from some other players in the NFL.
But as Bob Nightengale of USA Today broached in a conversation with Jones, not one African-American baseball player has followed suit.
“We already have two strikes against us already,” Jones said, “so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game. In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us.
“Baseball is a white man’s sport.”
Those quotes pop and are eye opening, but considering the demographics—African Americans make up only 8 percent of baseball, compared to well over 65 percent in both the NFL and NBA—Jones has a point. It’s difficult to find strength in numbers and likely very scary to attempt to rock the boat in a profession that has so few roster spots (especially compared to the NFL).
While Jones’ comments on baseball being a ‘white man’s sport’ are drawing the most attention, he also brought something to the forefront that’s rarely been talked about or asked during all of the Kaepernick debate: Do most Americans at sporting events truly think about the meaning behind the anthem and why everyone stands or is it just tradition without thought?
“He believes in what he believes in,” Jones says of Kaepernick, “and as a man of faith, as an American who has rights, who am I to say he’s wrong?
“Kaepernick is not disrespecting the military. He’s not disrespecting people who they’re fighting. What he’s doing is showing that he doesn’t like the social injustice that the flag represents.
“Look, I know a lot of people who don’t even know the words to the national anthem. You know how many times I see people stand up for the national anthem and not pay attention. They stand because they’re told to stand.
“That’s the problem. Just don’t do something because you’re told to do something. Do it because you understand the meaning behind it and the sacrifice behind it.”
Jones capped the conversation with Nightengale by acknowledging that no baseball player has ‘yet’ joined Kaepernick’s cause. The Orioles are currently in postseason position, which could bring about increased attention on the Orioles star in October.