By James Duffy, sports editor
Colin Kaepernick is the talk of the sports world. His jersey is the best-selling item for the San Francisco 49ers, despite the fact that he is a backup quarterback, and he’s had more airtime on SportsCenter in the past week than in the last year. And it’s because he sat. Throughout the preseason, Kaepernick has refused to stand up during the national anthem, instead sitting on the bench in protest.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said in a press conference after the Niners game on August 26 when asked about his actions.
Other athletes, including soccer player Megan Rapinoe, have followed Kaepernick’s lead and taken up their protest during the national anthem. Rapinoe, a member of the United States women’s national soccer team, knelt during the “Star-Spangled Banner” before a game earlier this week.
Originally, many considered Kaepernick’s actions to be a publicity stunt. But by sparking this discussion about race relations, Kaepernick has jeopardized his career. Many have already called for San Francisco to cut ties with the QB. Moreover, he has put his money where his mouth is and pledged to donate $1 million to organizations that help those affected by racial inequality and police brutality. He’s helping to bring a major national issue to the forefront and now contributing to help with the solution. Despite what 49ers fans, who booed him throughout the preseason, may believe, what Kaepernick is doing is good.
Some of his methods are not. I can’t condone Kaepernick wearing socks that depict police officers as pigs. That is simply inflammatory, pointless and creates more issues than it helps to solve. Still, his overall message still rings true. What he’s saying, and the fact that he’s saying it, is massively important. There are serious issues in this country that need to be discussed, and the treatment of African-Americans has become one of the most relevant over the past few years.
Kaepernick may lose his job for what he’s doing, and he clearly lost the favor of thousands of 49ers fans, but he has the courage to do it anyway. It’s not anti-military or anti-American of him, and he’s said that he supports the armed services many times since this began. His protest is a statement that needs to be made. As an NFL quarterback, Kaepernick reaches millions of people every weekend and makes millions of dollars every season. He’s using that platform and that money to make a difference in the country, which is more than can be said for most of the players in the league who are cheered and beloved.
Every Patriots fan in the nation went to bat for Tom Brady when he cheated in Deflategate. He’s beloved and cheered any time he takes the field for nothing other than playing a game. Kaepernick, in contrast, is making an effort to work towards serious social change in this country and has drawn nothing but hate. Those fans raining boos down on Kaepernick should take time to acknowledge what he’s actually working towards and maybe they’ll be silenced.