“Firearms were the leading cause of death for American children and teens in 2020.”
It’s a shocking statement to read, but it’s made even more surprising to see the message communicated by your favorite sports team. That’s exactly the message that fans of two rival baseball clubs received Thursday night on social media.
Instead of tweeting highlights, statistical updates and the latest run totals, the two teams posted statistics related to gun violence to honor the lives lost in recent mass shootings across the country.
For the entire duration of Thursday’s game, the two teams tweeted about gun violence, gun policy and gun legislation to the teams’ more than 4.2 million combined followers.
“In lieu of game coverage and in collaboration with the Tampa Bay Rays, we will be using our channels to offer facts about the impacts of gun violence. The devastating events that have taken place in Uvalde, Buffalo and countless other communities across our nation are tragedies that are intolerable,” a statement on the Yankees’ Twitter account read.
More than a dozen tweets were sent out during Thursday’s game and none were about the game that was being played between the two American League East squads. Each shocking statistic was followed up with a citation and link to additional information.
Response to the social media takeover was mostly positive, with many users tipping their hats to the Yankees, often viewed as the evil empire of Major League Baseball, for using their massive online presence to bring attention to the rampant problem of gun violence in America.
Everytown, the American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun reform and against gun violence, retweeted the statement by the New York Yankees and thanked both teams for using their platforms to bring attention to their mission.
Of course, the decision to focus on gun violence instead of baseball coverage did draw some ire, including by those who voiced frustration that the tweets took away some people’s escape from the devastating news following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Others lambasted the teams for “politicizing” the shootings.
Regardless of the response from the public, the mission by both clubs appeared to have been successful with each tweet as part of Thursday’s social media coverage receiving thousands of likes, retweets and quote tweets as their messages were amplified across social media.
For those curious, the Yankees defeated the Rays 7-2, with Aaron Judge leading the way with two RBIs, according to the MLB boxscore.