Minor League Baseball Team’s Kaepernick Joke Gets Deleted, Team Apologizes Amid Backlash

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 4, 2019Sportsshare
Minor League Baseball Team’s Kaepernick Joke Gets Deleted, Team Apologizes Amid Backlash
A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store in San Francisco, Calif., on Sept. 5, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A minor league baseball team in Tennessee deleted a tweet joking about Colin Kaepernick and apologized to anyone it offended after a backlash.

The Tennessee Smokies took to Twitter after Nike pulled shoes featuring the Betsy Ross flag, a decision reportedly influenced by Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who launched the anthem kneeling protests and who starred in a Nike campaign last year.

The affiliate of the Chicago Cubs shared four pictures from its stadium in Kodak showing the American flag etched into the dirt.

“Hey @Kaepernick7 after a lot of thought, we have decided it’s best to just do it. #America,” The Smokies official account stated.

NTD Photo
(Screenshot/Twitter)

The tweet tagged Kaepernick’s Twitter account.

“Just Do It,” was a reference to Nike’s famous slogan.

Several hours after posting the pictures, the Smokies deleted the tweet.

It issued an update, writing: “Regarding one of our recent tweets regarding @Kaepernick7 and our field design for tonight’s game, it was meant to be a light-hearted take on a current situation. We did not mean to offend anyone by it. If it did, we certainly apologize.”

The minor league team is owned by Randy Boyd, the president of the University of Tennessee Interim System.

After the tweet was deleted and the apology was issued, Boyd wrote in a Twitter post that he wasn’t aware of what happened.

“Just catching up. I was not at the ballpark tonight and was not aware of any of tonight’s actions or tweets,” he wrote.

“But I hope we’ll skip all the politics so everyone can get back to celebrating the Fourth with their families and friends.”

Nike Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoes
This undated product image shows Nike Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoes that have a U.S. flag with Betsy Ross flag on them. (AP Photo)

Reactions

People reacting to the tweet accused the team of endorsing “systematic racism.”

“You’re so right. Anyone can post a light-hearted take on racism. Thank for clearing that up. But I hope we’ll skip all the politics so everyone can get back to celebrating the Fourth with their families and friends,” wrote one user.

“I wasn’t offended. This isn’t about offense. This is about understanding what symbols represent with respect to their history and their present,” wrote another.

Critics of the Betsy Ross flag claim that the flag is racist because it was created in 1776, when the United States had a number of slaves.

People who criticized Nike’s decision noted that President Barack Obama, an African American, used the flag at both of his inauguration ceremonies.

“Yea, In fact it’s so terrible that… Checks notes… that there were two of them flying over Obama’s inauguration!!!” President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. noted.

“The left’s outrage about everything is really getting old.”

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