This is America: we are allowed to disagree.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat in protest during the National Anthem before a preseason football game on Saturday, saying:
“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.”
I question the timing. I mean, couldn’t he have at least waited until the regular season to make this political statement?
But seriously, whether I agree with him or not I’m always going to agree with a person standing up for what they believe in. Kaepernick has been getting bombarded with racist tweets from white supremacists, and some players have spoken out against him.
PC Culture has effectively cut off any prominent sports figure from being capable of interesting. Muhammed Ali’s recent death was as good of a reminder as any that, yes, there was a time where professional athletes acted as the political icons they now pretend not to be.
That’s where ESPN got it wrong, at least when they decided to censor their on-air personalities from mentioning presidential candidates, albeit Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders when he was in the race. They are a sports network and didn’t want to alienate any of its viewership.
But sports are entirely political, like most everything else, and always have been. ESPN used to care about sports, and putting actual personalities on television to deliver the sports news, and in some way they acted as a moral compass for their audience. These were the guys — Dan Patrick, Keith Olberman, Kenny Mayne, Rich Eisen, Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, et. al — we trusted with our sports, after all.
It didn’t matter whether I agreed with any of them. What was important was the fact they had a perspective. Nowadays ESPN is like the mainstream news: the anchors take two sides of a story, report on both, and don’t justify to the audience what the truth is, or what the facts are. It’s more of a We Report, You Decide attitude, and that never works.
Kaepernick’s protest has taken heat, as expected. But he isn’t wrong here: it isn’t difficult to admit that black people are being oppressed, just like it isn’t difficult to admit that climate change is real. The debate is over: the evidence overwhelmingly supports the claim.
The negative backlash he’s received can only exist in two camps of people, those who either don’t want to hear it or don’t care. In neither case would they be correct for disagreeing. It would be one thing if Kaepernick sat in protest of vaccinations for children, or lizard people controlling the government. It would be his right to do so, which I can’t hate on, but it would also give me the right to acknowledge him as a crazy person. Because he would be factually wrong.
Ian O’Conner, I think, expressed it quite thoughtfully in his piece, writing (emphasis mine):
African-American athletes are often asked (unfairly, perhaps) to speak out on social issues and, well, Kaepernick just did. If you don’t like what the man did or said, that’s your prerogative. But telling him that what he said and did was un-American is to lose sight of what it means to be an American.
Think about it. From the very beginning, the United States was a protest nation. The great war our ancestors fought was called The Revolutionary War for Christ’s sake. Revolution. Revolt.
Our constitution was written to encourage challenge, which is what makes it the most valuable document we have at our disposal. And yet it seems like most everything in society today operates to the opposite effect. Individuality gets trumped by groupthink, because large swaths of the country can’t handle character or personality from its favorite athletes. They want One Size Fits All humans, and it’s impossible for me to create a counterargument that says they haven’t already won.
ESPN, and the media at large, has failed its viewership for not delivering its audience the facts of the matter. They chose to generalize the story by making it a protest of the National Anthem, when in reality it’s about unarmed black people getting wrongfully shot and not receiving justice from the police department.
Absolutely I love my country, and it’s because I love my country that I support Colin Kaepernick using his platform as a quarterback in the NFL with a purpose. Also, why do they play the National Anthem during sporting events? This country was founded by secularists. It’s so un-American to play a song featuring god in the U.S.