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Rhys Hoskins: ‘Change starts with these conversations’

New York Mets slugger Dom Smith was brought to tears in his postgame press conference Wednesday evening, as he discussed Jacob Blake being shot – and paralyzed – seven times by the police, and the struggles that African Americans still face in the United States.

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins knows that he’s had entirely different life experiences than the ones that led Smith to kneel while the national anthem was being played ahead of Wednesday’s Mets-Miami Marlins game. But Hoskins felt the pain in Smith’s voice, and implored those who haven’t yet to join the fight for racial equality.

“If that doesn’t hit you differently, I think…it should,” Hoskins said in a joint press conference with Washington Nationals utility man Josh Harrison Thursday. “It should hit you differently, because we’re all humans.”

The Milwaukee Bucks became the first professional sports team yesterday afternoon to boycott a scheduled game, setting off an avalanche across the sports world that included the Phillies deciding not to play their regularly scheduled game with the Nationals this evening.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been heightened calls for an end to police brutality, initially sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement. Blake was shot in his back seven times, as he appeared to potentially be resisting arrest and attempting to get into his car over the weekend. As Blake fights for his life – knowing that he may never be able to walk again – calls for significant policing reforms have been reignited across the country.

Rhys Hoskins had some powerful thoughts on Thursday, (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

Hoskins, one of the Phillies clubhouse leaders, was at the forefront of a powerful meeting Thursday afternoon, one that culminated with the decision not to play this evening. The 27-year-old explained what the Phillies hope to accomplish by not playing Thursday.

“I’ve heard people ask ‘Well what do the players want?’ Obviously, change. We’re hoping for change, but we know that some of these issues that are going on in the country are rather big issues. But even if there are baby steps towards changing those issues, that feels like a win. And I think that change starts with these conversations.”

Hoskins knows that he doesn’t have all the answers. No one does. But as someone who hasn’t had to face these struggles, he feels it’s important that he uses his platform to speak for those that have been disenfranchised.

“I think our role is to speak. I think it is to listen. The 30 minutes that we had together today were some of the most powerful minutes that we’ve had together. And honestly, a lot of it was spent listening.

“Joe [Girardi] shared his story about Charles [Barkley], but we could see that today in some of the guys that spoke in our meeting. They’re tired of it. It’s something that stays with them in the game. After the game, some of these guys have kids and families and they can’t get away from it, even when they’re with their family. So, yeah, [our role] is to speak, and speak up. We’re all humans, and at the end of the day, every human should have the opportunity to experience the same life.”


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