During a matchup Thursday night between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, the teams’ Twitter accounts eschewed their usual in-game content in favor of exclusively posting information on gun violence in the United States.
- “Every day, more than 110 Americans are killed with guns, and more than 200 are shot and injured.”
- “About 4.5 million women in the US today report having been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.”
- “An average of 4,500 veterans die by firearm suicide every year — about 12 veterans each day.”
Both teams followed up the numbers they posted on gun violence with citations of their sources. Under normal circumstances, they would have been using their Twitter accounts to share content such as highlights and statistics.
In separate statements posted before the Yankees’ 7-2 win, the teams said they were reacting to the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex. In both cases, an 18-year-old man was able to legally purchase and put to deadly use a semiautomatic rifle.
“In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Rays, we will be using our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence,” the Yankees said in their statement. “The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable.”
“We all deserve to be safe — in schools, grocery stores, places of worship, our neighborhoods, houses and America,” the Rays stated. “The most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have shaken us to the core. The Tampa Bay Rays are mourning these heartbreaking tragedies that took the lives of innocent children and adults. This cannot become normal. We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes.”
The Rays added that they were making a $50,000 donation to a national gun violence prevention organization. “We understand that no single organization can solve this crisis alone,” the team said, “but working together, we can make an impact.”
The Yankees and Rays were the latest teams to respond to the recent shootings. After a WNBA game Tuesday evening, the Washington Mystics declined to discuss their win with reporters. Instead, guard Natasha Cloud addressed media members alone and emphasized a conviction shared by her and teammates that U.S. lawmakers need to enact “sensible gun laws so this doesn’t happen again.”
On Tuesday, just hours after 19 children and two teachers were fatally shot at an elementary school in Uvalde, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr spoke with emotion at a news conference in Dallas, ahead of a playoff game against the Mavericks.
Kerr, a longtime advocate for gun control whose father was assassinated 38 years ago by gunmen in Beirut, called on U.S. senators to pass legislation requiring background checks for firearm transfers between private parties. He specifically criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for stalling the bill out of a desire to, as Kerr put it, “hold on to power” rather than prioritize “the lives of our children, our elderly and our churchgoers.”
Among the athletes tweeting their concerns was Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who tweeted Tuesday: “There simply has to be change! HAS TO BE!!” Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul tweeted, “We have to do better as a country!!”
Before a playoff game Wednesday between the visiting Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, the host team held a moment of silence in honor of those who were killed. The Heat also urged fans, as voiced by the team’s public address announcer, to contact state senators and “leave a message demanding their support for common sense gun laws.”
“We invite you to join us and do what you can, when you can, where you can — because our lives depend on it,” the Rays tweeted Thursday.