Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson was filmed making a gesture similar to a Nazi salute after a game on Thursday

By Jason Duaine Hahn
August 07, 2020 01:37 PM
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Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty

Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson has issued an apology after he was seen making a gesture "unintentionally" similar to a Nazi salute on Thursday.

During a postgame celebration following Oakland's victory over the Texas Rangers, three A's coaches — including 46-year-old Christenson — were seen waiting in the dugout to celebrate with players.

But as two of the coaches bent their arms to do elbow bumps with players (a celebration that has been adopted to follow coronavirus protocols), Christenson was filmed raising his right arm into a Nazi salute.

Almost immediately after Christenson made the gesture, A's player Liam Hendriks grabbed his arm and bent it to match the other coaches before Christenson laughed and made the salute once more. Footage of the gesture quickly went viral after the game and fans on social media called for Christenson's firing.

"I made a mistake and will not deny it," Christenson said in a statement published by the Athletics on Thursday night. "Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of COVID, I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players."

"My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in," he continued. "What I did is unacceptable and I deeply apologize."

Ryan Christenson
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty

The Athletics also issued a response to the incident and apologized for it happening "on our playing field."

"We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it," the team said. "This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country."

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser said she believed Christenson may have made the gesture while preparing for a "karate chop," something he typically does for a celebration.

"Obviously I wasn’t doing that intentionally," Slusser said Christenson told her. "I just blacked out, my mind wasn’t there and I spaced out. I’m sure it looks terrible. I did it but it was not intentional. I don’t know what more to say."

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The incident involving Christenson comes just a month after NFL player DeSean Jackson was criticized after he shared anti-Semitic social media posts falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler.

Jackson later apologized for the posts and was "penalized" by the Philadelphia Eagles for "conduct detrimental to the team."