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Why Baseball and Football Teams Didn’t Honor 9/11

Mets Players During Pregame Ceremonies 9/11/11

Last September marked the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. To honor the occasion, players on the New York Mets baseball team wanted to wear FDNY and NYPD hats like they did after the tragedy in September 2001. However, the Mets faced opposition from MLB front offices.

The commissioner, Bud Selig, and Vice President, Joe Torre, decided that the hats would not be allowed without a 5,000-dollar fine per player. Many players were willing to take this chance.
But rumors persisted the MLB sent representatives into the team locker room after pregame celebrations to remove the hats. This rumor was later confirmed in a tweet by Mets’ pitcher R.A. Dickey. “For all those upset that we didn’t wear the hats, I understand your anger. However, they physically took them from us after the ceremony,” he tweeted.
The MLB has a strict uniform policy. The policy states that all players on a team must be wearing the same exact uniform at all times. In order to stay consistent, they did not feel it was fair to allow just the Mets to break that policy, even for a good reason.
The National Football League faced a similar problem in the days leading up to the anniversary. The official gear supplier created specialty 9/11/01 memorial gear for the players that did not conform to NFL uniform guidelines established for that day’s games. Once the news leaked, the NFL received such backlash from outraged fans that they changed the guidelines and allowed the gear to be worn.
The MLB, however, refused to budge. Selig and Torre have refused to comment aside from an official press release explaining the reasoning behind the ban.
We took to the streets in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood to ask people what they thought of the controversy. “Do you agree with Selig and Torre or do you think the rules should be bent for this one circumstance?”
Most people believed the hats should have been allowed.
Some, like 34-year-old Jessica Beauman, thought that MLB had made a huge mistake.  “No explanation is a good enough explanation for me,” Beauman said. “Can’t imagine why MLB thought it’d be worth it to deal with the backlash of their decision rather than letting the Mets just wear the hats. If they let them, we wouldn’t be talking about it anymore.”
52-year-old Dan Pauling thought that MLB did what they needed to do in order to be fair and consistent. Pauling said,
“MLB had to be the bad guy and say no once so that they could avoid having to be the bad guy several times in the future. They have to keep their policy of either all teams in the tribute or no teams.”
Others believed that the main issue was the MLB’s reputation. 48-year-old John Blackburn believes that allowing the team to wear the hats would have been better for the league’s image. “The company I work for uses an excellent guideline for decision-making. If your decision was made public and your name appeared in the newspaper, would you be okay with that?”
“Clearly, MLB and Mr. Selig need to start following that advice,” Blackburn said. It would appear most people agree with him. MLB has faced severe backlash since he incident. With many fans criticizing the league’s decision.
19-year-old Reggie Leonard says, “9/11 is a very touchy subject for most people, and even more so for NYC residents. It leaves a very sour aftertaste that the team wasn’t allowed to honor first responders.”
Most saw the  MLB’s point of view but couldn’t bring themselves to agree with the decision.
As Mike Miller, 27, said, “This wasn’t a team in Seattle or Anaheim or Cleveland or San Diego. This was a team in New York. They should have been allowed to wear the hats.”

Photo By: Associated Press/AP Images

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.