As we sit in states of sadness, hopelessness and disbelief after another avoidable massacre of children in UvaldeTexas, the New York Yankees shocked the nation by forgoing their usual Twitter programming during their game against the Tampa Bay Rays last night.
In lieu of highlights, score updates, and lineup announcements, the Yankees’ official Twitter account posted facts about gun violence in America, accompanied by quotes for the information. They were accompanied by the Rays’ account. The Rays have also pledged $50,000 to a gun violence prevention organization.
Out of every team from every sport in this country, who would have thought it would be the Yankees to take a stand and set a precedent for how to respond to political discourse after a senseless tragedy? After all, this is a franchise whose sole focus is on winning championships, top to bottom, never a wasted move. So military-ish that its players shave and cut before donning their precious pinstripes. The only positions it ever takes are on the diamond. Still.
With a combined reach of more than 4 million followers, the two teams’ accounts posted statistics on topics such as mass shootings, the effects of gun violence on various demographics, including women, black people, Latinx people and children, and the correlation between gun violence, property and suicide, especially for military veterans. It was a sweeping move — albeit somewhat undermined by the continued employment of the Yankees by pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who was banned from the league in 2016 for a domestic violence incident involving a firearm.
But for those who ask, “Well, what should that team/player/organization do about it?”: When others demand decisive, impactful action from such parties in response to such horrific events, here’s the answer to that question. They reached a large audience and interrupted regular programming to make the advocacy even more powerful. When people check their favorite team’s Twitter expecting to see a rerun of a double and come across something like this, it means something, especially coming from an organization like the Yankees.
Both teams’ tweets also include helpline numbers for victims of domestic violence and those considering suicide.
As for how? not react? To look no further than Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who somehow staged a mass shooting and said “compromise” was the solution to the deaths of 19 children and two adults.