Colin Kaepernick, the former starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has been under fire in the past, but nothing quite like the magnitude that the past 3 weeks has brought him. Ever since the 2016 NFL preseason got into full swing, the San Francisco quarterback has been sitting down during the playing of the our country’s national anthem before each contest. He has done this in all four of the 49ers preseason games and claims that he will continue to do so until America takes action against the unfair treatment of African Americans and police brutality.
Kaepernick has not been the only athlete to protest in some way about the unlawful killings of people of color, but the way that he has carried out the protest was something that this country has not seen in some time. The last time America saw a well known athlete make headlines while protesting during the national anthem was during the 1968 Olympics when two track and field Olympians, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, stood on top of the Olympic podium and stuck their fists in the air in salute of black power, instead of putting their hands over their hearts to salute America. Both actions resulted in a negative response from American citizens, but with the addition of social media and sports talk radio and television, Kaepernick has been victimized quite harshly.
Days after his unpopular action of protest, Kaepernick was interviewed by ESPN and said, “This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all and it’s not happening for all right now.” One of the most misunderstood parts of this conflict is that Kaepernick did not direct this action towards the military, even though sitting during the national anthem does conjure some negative connotation towards the military personnel indirectly.
According to ESPN, Kaepernick tried to clear things up by saying, “I do think that the talk has been more about me. I know a lot of people’s initial reactions thought it was bashing the military, which it wasn’t. That wasn’t my intention at all. I think now that things cleared up we can get to the root of what I was saying and really address those issues.” After clearing up the fact that his action of protest did not directly point toward the military, he went on and added some of the hardships his family and friends have had to go through with the police force.
In the days following his most recent protest, Kaepernick has had to endure immense criticism. The majority of American public reacted negatively to his actions during Saturday night’s game, with a few exceptions. According to AOL in a recent interview with President Obama in China about the conflict, the Commander in Chief stated, “my understanding, at least, is that is he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.’’ Other athletes have caught Kaepernick’s vibe, like U.S women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who kneeled during the playing of the national anthem. As far as the rest of America, people have showed their anger by cursing at him on live television, angrily reacting to him on social media, and, of course, after a player does a wrongdoing to their nation or city, some fans reacted by burning his jersey. Ironically, however, Kaepernick’s jersey sales have increased dramatically over the course of the past three weeks.
Past all the criticism, the question many ask is, “Are Kaepernick’s actions justified? Does he have a credible point?” The answer is arguable and for many it is both yes and no. The point that Kaepernick is trying to prove is very real. People of color are getting killed or brutally injured for debatable reasons by the police force and people have every right to be angered by the situation. It is an issue that America cannot put off to the side and forget about and if we do, tragedies like the death of young people and protest reactions such as Kaepernick’s will continue to happen. Some people who have directly or indirectly been affected by this problem will turn to protesting to take out their anger and try get the word out to the public. As with everything in life, though, there is a proper time and place for actions of protest. Kaepernick decided to protest the issue in front of thousands of fans over the course of his past 4 preseason games. His action of protest was at the wrong place at the worst possible time at a very delicate time in America.
Many people, like Kaepernick, are very sensitive to this issue and will take notable actions to prove a point. This time, though, in my opinion, he went a little too far, compromising the pride he should have in his country as they honor it before the playing of each game he has the remarkable opportunity to participate in. His past actions were a mistake that deserves a correction. Even though this country has hit a roadblock–perhaps resulting in some people being perceived as not being treated fairly–it is inappropriate at all times not to stand for the national anthem, especially when you are a professional sports star with cameras surrounding the stadium in which you are playing. Even though Kaepernick did claim in one of his interviews that he was not directing his actions toward the military, he still disrespected those who have fought for our country’s freedom and have sacrificed their lives for assurance that we can lively freely and safely as one of the world’s most proud countries. Our Armed Forces remain to be on par with the best military forces in the world.
If it weren’t for the people who helped make America magnificent, he would not be playing professional football. In fact, America’s freedom allows it to have one of the only professional football leagues in the world. Therefore, it should be enforced that every single athlete should–at the very least–stand for the national anthem, whether they are happy, angry or disappointed in the country. Kaepernick should be allowed to prove his point to the American public in another way–in interviews, television commercials, advertisements, etc.–without being criticized for his opinion, but there is always a time and place for sensitive topics like that. The playing of America’s national anthem and honoring the flag of our nation is not one of them.