A couple of weeks ago, Brewers reliever Josh Hader was pitching in the MLB All-Star game, representing everything great that he and 73 All-Stars had accomplished throughout the first half of the 2018 season. However, what ensued was an alarming truth about the current state of our nation’s pastime: racism, sexism and homophobia are still very much alive.
On the night of the All-Star game, some of Hader’s old tweets resurfaced from 2011 and 2012, and to say the least, they were not pretty. They included various racist and homophobic slurs that are too explicit to describe. Four days later, Hader pitched in his first home game since that night. While one would expect fans to be resentful towards Hader, Milwaukee fans were the exact opposite:
Just watching that video should be enough to send chills throughout your entire body. In that video, a group of mostly white people are smiling and cheering for another white male for tweeting terribly racist and offensive thoughts. It’s blatant racism occuring on a national stage; and, more importantly, it’s promoting the acceptance of the hateful messages that Hader exhibited.
If you thought Hader’s incident would be isolated, you were dead wrong. Yesterday, Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb was one pitch away from throwing a no-hitter against the Dodgers. Despite the great accomplishment, he left the game to the same surprise as Hader: some of his old tweets from high school resurfaced. And then, most recently, Nats shortstop Trea Turner had his old racist and homophobic tweets exposed.
These three recent incidents show that racism and homophobia are not just a thing of the past; rather, they still have a major impact on society today, and in many different forms. In saying that, there’s a couple of important conclusions that can be drawn from these incidents:
- When Hader, Newcomb and Turner tweeted those offensive things, they were 18 and 19 years old. By this age, one would expect these players to know better than to post these things on social media. However, they did it anyway, and threw around offensive language like they were having an ordinary conversation. That gives reason to believe that their racist and homophobic tweets were preconceived notions that they have always held. Racism, sexism and homophobia are entrenched into our society to the point where people, particularly those with power, can say offensive things with no moral responsibility.
- It’s impossible to ignore race in situations like these. It should be dangerously worrisome for the MLB that three white male athletes were caught slandering people different than them. These incidents reminded me of a racial incident at Fenway Park last year, where Red Sox fans repeatedly called Orioles outfielder Adam Jones the N-word. The MLB has a growing reputation for being a discriminatory organization, despite some of its top players and executives being non-white. After the recent incidents, they have hefty amounts of work to do in order to fix their reputation.
- Lastly, athletes must recognize the importance of social media. If someone were to find Hader, Newcomb and Turner’s tweets five years ago, it would not be nearly as big of a deal, because not many people knew who they were then. However, the reason the tweets became such a big deal is because all three players became famous and people dug up their tweets. Players have to learn that when they become famous, they represent everyone else around them: the organization, players, and fans. Hence, it is important to monitor everything that is put onto social media, because once something goes online, it becomes accessible to the whole public sphere.
No one should be feeling good after the tweets from Hader, Newcomb and Turner resurfaced in the past two weeks. Nevertheless, the biggest thing to take away from these incidents is to recognize the inherent biases that exist in society today. We are still far from escaping America’s discriminatory past, and the former tweets from MLB players display just that.