Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem by sitting on the bench while the rest of his teammates stood. Initially this wasn’t noticed by the public, but with the ever-increasing eye that technology has wrought, it wasn’t long before Kaepernick’s actions were caught. Such a controversial move may leave one to believe that a player may shrink away from the spotlight; instead, Kaepernick leaned into the criticism.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Colin Kaepernick’s stance created vast amounts of debate during the inception of the 2016 NFL season. Some criticized his position while others praised the audacious risk he was taking. The focus on his protest spawned pressure that pushed him to transform his actions from sitting on the bench to kneeling on the sideline with his teammates. Safety Eric Reid, among others, joined him in the proceedings.
The antiseptic culture of sports, especially in the NFL, leads to a situation in which management tends to side with the voice of the general public. The majority disapproved of Kaepernick’s protest; however, it was refreshing to see the 49ers stick behind their quarterback.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Colin Kaepernick’s actions permeated throughout the country, while other players like Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos and various members of the Miami Dolphins mimicked Kaepernick’s protest. Additionally, many others felt inspired to kneel during the anthem, including players and refs in our country’s school system. A youth football team took the opportunity to kneel during the national anthem and subsequently had their season cancelled.
When suspensions and cancellations are levied after one’s American right to protest, things can get problematic. Indoctrinating our youth along the lines of compliance as opposed to the wondrous ability of free thought only perpetuates conditions this country has been suffering from since its beginning, especially when these punishments are distributed to mainly minority citizens.
The interesting thing about such an act, especially in the age of technology where it is so easy to move on to the next story in an instant, is that it vanishes without many even realizing it. Kaepernick’s protest was a hot button topic that set the sports news cycle ablaze. However, now that we are at the end of the football season and the 49ers are irrelevant in its landscape, Kaepernick’s story has faded from the mainstream.
The ever-increasing flow of information provided by technological advances will allow us to become furious or delighted with the click of a button and then move on to the next big thing. Although our eyes may be off of Colin Kaepernick as that story has expired after its allotted 15 seconds, emotions tend to be perpetually entrenched within us, allowing little leeway for change. Our opinions on issues such as this, generally, will not waver. As we see the news cycle spin out of control, moving past important expressions of freedom such as Colin Kaepernick’s, his legacy will remain through our sentiments (positive or negative) even if it doesn’t survive our relevance.
[Featured Image by John Bazemore/AP Images]