More Focus Should Be On Hader’s Growth And Where He Goes From Here
Up until some old tweets resurfaced, you would have to say the All-Star Game was going to be a smashing success for Major League Baseball.
Bryce Harper electrified the crowd and baseball winning the Home Run Derby. After years of baseball’s most ardent fans begging him to become more marketable, Mike Trout would not only allow himself to be miked during the game, he would also do some shtick with the weather with Ken Rosenthal.
This really was about letting players be themselves and showing their personality on the field. While it was a good game that went into extra innings, the highlight was really the interactions players on the field had with the booth including Francisco Lindor, Matt Kemp, Harper, and Trout. It was seeing them have fun playing a game they and we love:
Always something special #AllStarGame
Thank you for the hospitality DC!!! pic.twitter.com/F43MN0dZLQ
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) July 18, 2018
Speaking of those interactions, how great was it to see hear Harper refer to Trout as the best player in the game?
Well, it was about as great as it was awful to see some of Josh Hader‘s tweets from seven years ago. Actually no, seeing those tweets were much worse than that.
There’s no need to republish those now deleted tweets here. You can find them if you want. Suffice it to say, they were racist and homophobic. Post-game, he was left searching for an explanation:
It was something that happened when I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. And that’s just what it is.
* * * * *
I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. And like I said, that doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs going on now.
* * * * *
When you’re a kid, you tweet what’s on your mind.
In some corners, his blaming it on his youth is probably going to go over about as well as the statements themselves. Perhaps rightly so, there will be people who didn’t think or say those things when they were 17, and they are going to judge a 23 year old man about things he said as a 17 year old.
There is a real problem approaching it that way.
We don’t know Hader’s life experiences and influences when he was growing up in Millersville, Maryland. We don’t know the beliefs of his family, his school, his friends, and the like. Whether people want to admit it or not, what Hader said as a 17 year old is a true reflection of his upbringing and his area because someone or something made him believe it was alright to not just speak like that, but to also publish it on Twitter.
That’s not excusing anything he said. No reasonable person will excuse it or take this to say Hader is blameless. He’s not.
What is important was Hader was a young person who said some incredibly stupid things. What is more important is Hader is a 23 year old man. The hope in life is you have matured as you grow older. As you mature and grow older, you should become wiser and more tolerant.
Put another way, you don’t expect a 23 year old man to think and say the things a 17 year old teenager would.
To that end, there should be more interest in how and why Hader has matured to the point where he now disavows those statements. In many ways, it is of more importance Hader said those statements don’t reflect who he is now or what his current beliefs are. We should hear more about that transformation, and he has the exact platform he needs to do it.
Remember, baseball is a sport with its own racist past. It is also one which did a brave thing and broke not just it’s own but professional sport’s color barrier with Jackie Robinson. It’s now a sport which names its humanitarian award for Roberto Clemente, a Puerto Rican.
If a sport like baseball full of bigots could grow to become much more inclusive, then so can someone like Hader.
Given how the offensive statements were made right before he was drafted, it’s quite possible it was Hader’s experiences in baseball were those that made him mature and see how wrong he was. Major League Baseball and Hader should be at the forefront in the coming days and weeks to explain how it was baseball and his interactions with people that led him to mature and become a better person.
Don’t hide behind anything. The comments are public, and out in the open. There’s no more hiding. Rather, own up to them, and explain to everyone why you are a better person. More importantly, tell us how you became a better person.
Who knows? Maybe there is a 17 year old out there right now who thinks the same way Hader did back in 2011. Maybe, just maybe, Hader speaking out now will help reach that person and make them a better human being. When that happens, we need to listen and be accepting of his being a better person.
Really, some good can come of this. Hopefully, everyone will do their part to make sure that happens.