WASHINGTON — Sean Doolittle has been a valuable weapon for the Nationals since he came to Washington’s bullpen at the trade deadline.
But this isn’t about baseball.
Doolittle, who comes from a military family, participated in a lengthy interview with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick regarding the national anthem protests that have been huge stories across each of the four major American sports recently.
The entire interview is absolutely worth reading. But the two answers that most stuck out are copied below.
“I came from a military family, so there are a lot of things I think about when the anthem is playing. One thing that bothers me is the way that people use veterans and troops almost as a shield. They say that’s the reason they stand and that veterans deserve to be honored and respected during the anthem. But where is that outrage in taking better care of veterans? The most recent statistics say that we still lose 20 veterans to suicide every day.
“If you want to have that conversation, if that’s your reason for standing, then let’s talk. Let’s have a conversation about putting that into action, because they deserve a heck of a lot more than people standing at attention during the flag or giving them discounts on food or hotels.
“It’s really nice that we honor them at games sometimes. They’ll bring a veteran on the field and he’ll get a standing ovation, and that’s important. We’re in the 16th or 17th year of this war [in Afghanistan], and it keeps a reminder that we are still a country at war. But we need to follow through on those thoughts and actions.”
“I think American democracy is strong enough to have that conversation. I think my patriotism is strong enough to not be offended when somebody takes a knee during the anthem. That’s not something I take personally. It’s something that makes me want to reach out to that person and have a conversation with them and say, ‘Let’s talk about some of these issues. Tell me about certain things that have caused you to take such a stand.”
I want to have these conversations with guys like Bruce Maxwell and guys in other leagues, and maybe someday we can get to a point where we give them a reason to stand, and they’re proud to stand along the other guys that are standing.”
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