MLB

Athletes protesting during the national anthem has been largely limited to the NFL until now, with Bruce Maxwell becoming the first MLB player to join.

Maxwell — who joined the Oakland Athletics this season and has played just over 100 career games — kneeled during the anthem prior to a game with the Texas Rangers, following a tweet he sent in response to President Trump’s recent controversial remarks:

Despite there being no precedent for MLB players kneeling during the anthem, the Oakland A’s official Twitter account quickly tweeted its support of Maxwell and his protest, saying the team was committed to defending players’ “constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Bruce Maxwell’s decision to protest is particularly notable due to the fact that he was born in a military family on an army base in Germany, and was raised in Alabama — where President Trump made his incendiary remarks in a speech on Thursday night. While campaigning for Senator Luther Strange (R-Alabama), Trump riled up the crowd by suggesting NFL team owners should fire any and all players who don’t stand during the national anthem, and that fans should leave the stadium if they’re attending a game where players kneel.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump bellowed.

On his Twitter account, Maxwell challenged President Trump to call former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — the first professional athlete to protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem — a “son of a bitch” to his face:

Trump has been in a public quarrel with professional athletes ever since his tweet in response to Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who said he wasn’t planning on attending a White House celebration following his team’s NBA championship as a way of protesting President Trump’s policies.

“Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” Trump tweeted.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James called Trump a “bum” in response to his tweet, defending Curry’s statement by saying a White House visit for a championship team stopped being an honor now that Donald Trump is President of the United States.

On his Instagram account, Bruce Maxwell asked every NFL player to kneel during the anthem prior to Sunday’s games, stressing the importance of athletes being able to stand up for their rights.

Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.

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