During the seventh inning stretch in Major League Baseball, "God Bless America" is played. This practice began following 9/11 and has continued in some ball parks. Toronto has stopped playing it but you'll still hear it at Yankee Stadium where the Blue Jays play tonight. During the playing of "God Bless America" it's customary for those in attendance, including the players, to stand. For all of the 2004 season, Carlos Delgado has remained seated in the dugout during this ritual.
This is Delgado's silent protest of the United States' invasion of Iraq. Now, he's getting a great deal of flack for expressing his own political view. As the New York Times points out, Delgado's protest is consistent with his earlier opposition to the Navy's use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a weapons testing ground. In many ways, the United States military waged a form of war for 60 years on the tiny island, using a 900-acre site for bombing exercises.
The Blue Jays are supporting Delgado's decision to sit in the dugout while "God Bless America" is played and that's a good thing. Too often athletes refuse to take a political stand for fear of alienating a potential customer. Can you imagine Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods having the balls to take a stand like this? Delgado is a rarity in professional sports. He's a well-informed, intelligent soul who isn't afraid to silently protest a war he doesn't believe in. I've got a great deal of respect for him both as a player on my favourite team and a human being. To those who will condemn him to hell for this action I only have pity.
For the record, my support of Delgado's protest has nothing to do with my personal political views. If an American hockey player wants to sit during the Canadian national anthem because we didn't join the coalition that invaded Iraq, I'd respect that as well. It's important we create an environment that doesn't judge people for peacefully voicing their opinions on such matters. It's what makes this country great.