For many people, football is a means of escapism from the many hot button issues throughout the United States. However, Colin Kaepernick turned the football field into the center piece of arguably the most controversial issue in the United States – the Black Lives Matter movement.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up during the National Anthem before a pre-season game on Aug. 26, as he did not believe he should stand for a nation where African-Americans are often treated unfairly. Kaepernick specifically called out the injustice inflicted upon African-Americans at the hands of police officers, which has been the primary catalyst for Black Lives Matter.
Since his protest, the response towards Kaepernick has showed the hypocrisy of public opinions about the Black Lives Matter movement. Several professional athletes have showed their support for Kaepernick, including fellow 49ers player Eric Reid who joined Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem of the final preseason game. Yet, Kaepernick’s detractors have lambasted him as being a traitor, with some fans even burning his jersey.
The kind of players who have evoked negative reactions like that from the public are people like Ray Rice, a man who assaulted his (then) fiancée at a hotel. Another player whose jersey was burned by fans in the wake of a major controversy was Michael Vick, a man who participated in dog-fighting rings and murdered multiple dogs. Are we honestly trying to say that Kaepernick deserves to be viewed in the same negative, controversial light?
Kaepernick did not call for any acts of violence against police officers, nor did he call for people to commit mass riots in the streets. He simply refused to stand for the national anthem during a football game as a means of personal expression.
While you may not be a fan of what he did, you cannot say he committed a horrible act which justifies the media firestorm into which he has been thrown. This whole controversy has been completely blown out of proportion.
In the past two years, so many people have taken to the internet to complain about disgruntled African-American citizens committing acts of violence and using destructive forms of protest to express their feelings on social injustice. Now, somebody is going out of their way to present a subtle, non-violent form of personal expression and people want to chastise the man for doing so?
You cannot have it both ways. If someone is going to protest, they are going to do it either peacefully or violently. I would take sitting down during the national anthem any day of the week over a group of people causing chaos in the streets and burning down local businesses run by innocent people.
This is the kind of productive protesting that has been sorely missing in the Black Lives Matter movement. There are peaceful sit-ins and non-violent protests that occur, however, all too often we hear about a protest that ends with buildings being burned, people being jailed or somebody losing their life. Police officers have often been on the receiving end of the violence as well.
Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem is the last thing people should be taking offense to. In fact, more people should be giving Kaepernick props for demonstrating that there are ways to encourage discussion of hot button issues without using violence as the means of doing so. Like it or not, Kaepernick used the platform of escapist entertainment to demonstrate how sitting down is an effective way to take a stand.