Women’s softball was just set to return to play after their COVID-19 related hiatus. But they’ll be playing without one team. According to the New York Times, an entire softball team quit the team in the middle of a series after its general manager, Connie May sent out an ill-advised tweet showing the women standing for the national anthem before a game.
The tweet was directed at President Donald Trump and praised the players for standing during the anthem and not “disrespecting the flag.”
The predominantly white fast-pitch team that has two Black players on its roster had no idea that the tweet was circulating on social media until they returned to their locker room after the game and saw all the notifications on their phones about it.
We might be standing in this photo but we SURE AS HELL AREN’T STANDING FOR THIS. I’m embarrassed. I’m heartbroken. I’m DISGUSTED. @ScrapYardFP I will never be associated with your organization again. BLACK LIVES MATTER. The tone deafness on this is UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/5jSNipTFLd
— Haylie McCleney (@hayliemac8) June 23, 2020
The team, Scrap Yard Pitch was playing USSSA Pride, which the Times says are two of the best independent softball teams in the world, in Melbourne, Florida. Both teams hoped that a relatively clear sports schedule might give their sport more exposure. But the first day of the series ended with Scrap Yard Pitch’s 18 players quitting and refusing to play again for the organization.
Though the tweet has since been deleted, the women are steadfast that they are done with the team.
“The more we talked about it, the angrier I got, and I finally just said, ‘I’m done, I’m not going to wear this jersey,’” Olympic gold medalist Cat Osterman said. “We were used as pawns in a political post, and that’s not OK.”
The women said they were also disturbed by a previous post on behalf of the squad that read after George Floyd’s death that ‘We believe that Black lives matter, as do all lives.
May did speak to the team, again saying that ‘All lives matter’ and was met with anger and disbelief. The team’s two Black players, Kelsey Stewart, who was training for the 2020 Olympics before it was postponed, and Kiki Stokes, say they’ve already dealt with racism in the sport but felt this incident was too much to gloss over.
“I never really thought that she didn’t care about my life or Kiki’s life until that post,” Stewart said.” Stewart also said she felt supported as she and Stokes didn’t have to be the only ones speaking out.
Though the Scrap Yard organization is one of the few that provided resources to mount a pro softball team, the women say they have no regrets.
“We’re not going to tolerate that in our sport,” Osterman told the Times. “It wasn’t as hard of a decision as everyone thinks it was, because we knew it was the right thing to do.”
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