Two major league baseball teams use social media to raise awareness about gun violence, earn plaudits online

Days after 21 people, including 19 children, who were brutally murdered in an elementary school in Texas, Americans are coming together to call for a stricter gun-control law. Now, two prominent baseball teams scrapped their game coverage for a day to offer facts about gun violence instead. Forgetting all differences, fans of all US baseball teams are now hailing them online.

While Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees players locked horns on the field, the social media teams of the franchises worked in unison to share statistics to raise awareness about gun violence in the country in wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

“In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with @Yankees, we will use our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence,” Rays tweeted ahead of their Thursday game. “The devastating events that took place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable,” Yankees added in a similar post.

In another post, Tampa Bay team also pledged to make a $50,000 donation to a national gun violence prevention organisation.

Throughout the night, instead of a game update from the stadium or baseball statistics, both teams’ accounts have shared stats like “Firearms were the leading cause of death for American children and teens in 2020,” and “Every day, more than 110 Americans are killed with guns, and more than 200 are shot and injured.” They also shared relevant links for public to dig deeper and know more about the ongoing crisis.

With over 3 million followers, Yankees’ account is the top five most followed US sports teams on Twitter, according to NPR. People lauded the initiative taken by the sports teams and highlighted how important it is to use the platforms they have to drive change and not keep quiet in such trying times. While a few commentators came forward to argue that “sports is used as an escape” and the teams should not be “politicised”, others defended the move and said it’s too late now to carry on with their lives by just offering thoughts and prayers.

Many came forward to say they are not Yankees fans but respect the team for “stepping up” in dark times and “doing the right thing”, tagging their home teams to follow suit.

According to ESPN, the Texas school shooting was particularly personal for Rays player Brooks Raley, who is from Uvalde and still has a family who live in the town. “He attended the school where the shooting occurred,” the report noted.

However, this isn’t the first time that US sports team are using their platform and voicing their opinion over mass shooting and gun laws. Earlier, Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, went viral for his evocative speech during a news conference before Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

“When are we going to do something?” he said fighting back tears as news of the school shootout was known. He slammed his fists on the table as he yelled, “I’m tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there.”

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