Aaron Judge Encourages the ‘uncomfortable conversations’

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Earlier this week #BoycottMLB was a top trending hash tag on Twitter, and for your sake, I hope you did not click on it. I’m still recovering from the brain damage that I suffered upon looking at it. Almost all of the content posted with that hash tag was provided by people who completely miss the point of taking a knee during the national anthem.

Just like we saw in the NFL, when Colin Kaepernick and company kneeled during the “Star Spangled Banner,” you had legions of people who simply couldn’t understand the true point of this exercise- protesting police brutality and racial inequality. One guy who really gets it, and always has, is New York Yankees rightfielder Aaron Judge. When the San Francisco Giants knelt before an exhibition game on Tuesday night, it was a hot topic nationally.

Aaron Judge said the following, via a media teleconference over Zoom: “That’s the beauty of America, is freedom of speech and freedom to express yourself.”

“We got a special platform being athletes and being able to speak our mind and speak what’s going on in this world. Some people express it online. Some people express it with words. Some people kneel.”

“I think whatever message that we try to give out here is we want to try to express unity and that we’re all in this together,” Judge said on Tuesday.

“Try to have those uncomfortable conversations that we need to have and bring up those uncomfortable talking points.”

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It’s too bad more athletes don’t think like Judge does, and use their outsized public platform for good. It’s also very unfortunate that more American citizens don’t embrace the 6’7″ slugger’s message of having uncomfortable conversations, which cover the uncomfortable talking points.

We would all learn and grow, and help at least diminish, if not same day hopefully eradicate systemic racism, if we did. Aaron Judge consistently says that his game and developing it is all about not being comfortable/not resting on his laurels/stopping complacency.

He’s taking the same principle he applies to the physical and baseball fundamental, and applying it to the intellectual and sociopolitical.

In other words, it’s the exact opposite of what the “kneeling is disrespecting the military and the anthem” crowd are doing. In tonight’s season opener, the Yankees and Washington Nationals took a knee together, and paid homage to Black Lives Matter before rising to a recorded version of the national anthem.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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