Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrián González made some major waves on Monday, October 17, but it wasn’t just for the home run he hit the night before at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. It’s because it was revealed that González, a proud Mexican-American, had refused to stay in one of Donald Trump’s hotels in Chicago this past May.
However, despite all the attention—the attacks and the national praise—surrounding athletes like Colin Kaepernick, who have chosen to use their platforms to express their social and political views, González never intended to make headlines. Not for this, anyway. But a team broadcaster disseminated the information to a newspaper reporter over the weekend, and that was that.
“I don’t want this to be a story,” the slugger told the LA Times. “I did it for myself.”
For him, the decision not to give any business to the Republican presidential candidate noted for his blatant anti-Mexican rhetoric is a deeply personal one.
“I wasn’t doing it for publicity,” he said. “I wasn’t doing it for people to look at me or talk about me. I just have my own values and morals that I want to live by.”
And that’s fine, right? It’s a perfectly sensible thing to not desire widespread media coverage, positive or not, for something one would rather remain private. Truth is, not all athletes want to be Muhammad Ali. They don’t all want to pose on the covers of magazines simply because they’re “woke,” or because to some they represent a kind of much-needed social resistance. Some have no interest in having their every move debated and dissected in order to serve as a teachable moment for others.
Many would argue that professional athletes, or any figures in the public spotlight, should have the right to peacefully act upon their convictions without fear of retribution. That in the same way they might choose to give anonymously to a charity, for example, financially or otherwise, certain things should be left entirely up to them. Great, wonderful, anyone can understand that.
But what about when the political climate begs that people stand up against the sort of loud-mouthed bigotry that threatens the very fabric of a democracy? Whether it’s choosing to kneel during the national anthem of a country that doesn’t deliver on its promise of liberty and justice for all, or it’s refusing to set foot in a hotel chain tied to a billionaire who perpetuates hate, the basic principal is not so different. So while it makes sense to be guided by a set of core beliefs without necessarily seeking recognition for it, we’re talking about a crucial time in our nation’s history. It’s a time when the influence of public heroes, athletes and entertainers, means more than ever. Sure, silence may be golden, but silence at the expense of what? González may not have wanted this story out in the open, but now that it is, he should own it. There are greater things at stake, and every bit of defiance, however indirect, against a coordinated white supremacist agenda should be welcome news.