With the NFL season right around the corner, everything pressing with the American people comes to the forefront. The NFL debates have already begun, but somehow race finds a way to creep into every football conversation.
And that is all because of one man.
Colin Kaepernick is the hottest subject in sports, and it has nothing to do with his actual play. Kaepernick has brought national exposure to a subject the American public prefers to shy away from. Whether it’s his choice of socks or whether he chooses to sit or kneel during the national anthem, Kaepernick has the nation’s attention, which is actually what he wanted.
What went wrong for Kaepernick is that the attention he wanted wasn’t the kind he was necessarily after. He received a wave of backlash, from excruciating boos while he’s on the field to calls of him being unpatriotic and a rebel.
And I see their point.
Sitting or kneeling during the national anthem can be seen as extremely unpatriotic. It’s seen as disrespectful to everything this country represents and stands for. Whether that is the national anthem or the veterans and troops, I see why the country is in an uproar over Kaepernick.
But the outcry is for the wrong reason.
Kaepernick’s whole plan was to get people to react. The issue is people are responding to the wrong thing. He wanted to shine a light and bring focus to the unfair treatment of colored people, but somehow the only issue people are talking about is the form of his protest.
Kaepernick clearly stated his point, and he did so articulately. He doesn’t believe he should have to stand and salute a flag that is a representation of a country that doesn’t treat him or his type of people fairly.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
Isn’t that what this country is built on? Isn’t it our right to protest? No matter what it may be? It is hypocritical that people are mad at someone for using their right to protest just because of the way he chooses to do so. In that lies another issue in itself, people are ignoring the real message, and are just intent on killing the messenger.
Colin Kaepernick is an African American, and he chose to speak up on issues primarily affecting the African American community, and for no reason should he be shamed for that. The black community supports him, his teammates support and kneel beside him, and the people that are claimed to be disrespected most by Kaepernick’s choice, the veterans, have come out in support of him too.
In all honesty, we should be thanking Kaepernick, especially the black community. We’ve been crying and begging for our athletes to speak out and help with this cause, and now one is finally doing it. Yes LeBron, Wade, ‘Melo, and Chris Paul gave us some words at the ESPY’s, and that was much appreciated, but does that compare to what Kaepernick has been doing? What Kaepernick is doing is reminiscent of the activist athletes of the past. He’s following the example that Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Carl Lewis, and Muhammad Ali all set during their careers.
Kaepernick is forcing people to take notice regardless of what it may cost him, and it may have already cost him more than almost any other athlete today would be willing to sacrifice. Even though Kaepernick was clearly the best QB on San Francisco’s roster, they gave the starting job to Blaine Gabbert. So already Kaepernick has lost his starting spot and depending on how the Gabbert plays and how the season goes Kaepernick might lose his roster spot altogether.
And Kaepernick is fine with that.
That should be the mentality of our athletes during these racially tense times, especially considering that a lot of these powerful black athletes are already worth tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions. They should be willing to stand up, protest, or speak out no matter what the consequence might be. Whether that means losing endorsements, losing playing time, or maybe losing your career, this is bigger than sports, and if we can see a real change, it would be worth the price.
So thank you Colin Kaepernick, and may the rest of the sporting world follow the example you’ve started.
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