This archived article was written by: Tai Justice
I’m sure you’ve heard about a million takes and thoughts on what Kaepernick did in a preseason game last Friday night, but I’m going to give you some more thoughts on it. Because in my opinion this is one of the most important sports stories of the year so far.
Friday night, in a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick decided to sit during the National Anthem, his reason was this, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” I don’t agree with part of what Kaepernick said. I don’t believe the anthem or flag represents bigotry or oppression. But this doesn’t mean that Kaepernick wasn’t right about some aspects of what is happening in America. That’s an entirely different discussion though. Also, people think he disrespected the military when he didn’t. I don’t think he did. This has nothing to do with the military at all. Kaepernick said he recognizes and is thankful for all that the military has done and continues to do. I’m sorry, but the troops fought for his right to not stand for the National Anthem. Not the other way around. The main point is we can’t ask our athletes to be honest and try and help bring awareness to problems but then turn on them when they do. Be good at sports and make my teams win, but don’t talk. That’s the message many people give to our athletes. Or, when you do speak, say things that we agree with, otherwise, you’re going to get hated on more than you could ever imagine. We ask our athletes to speak up on issues and then when they do, we tell them to shut up. It’s time to change that type of attitude.
Kaepernick has every right to express his beliefs and people have every right to disagree with him. That’s America in action. What Kaepernick did is what we’ve seen a lot of athletes do over the past few years, just in a different way. Carmelo Anthony spoke on this, a WNBA team did, you’ve seen NBA players especially wear the Black Lives Matter T-shirts, a few players like Derrick Rose and LeBron James have worn all black warmup shirts before their games and now Kaepernick and I say, good for them. Kaepernick’s was by far the loudest message we’ve heard on these issues. Where Carmelo was wrong, eh not even wrong, but slightly naïve is he said: “No athlete should think: ‘If I speak up, I’m going to lose an endorsement or a sponsorship.’” While athletes use social media to up their brand, people use it to share their opinions and give their thoughts too. The aftermath with this Kaepernick situation has been maybe the worst I’ve ever seen on an athlete. People threatening to kick him out of the country, calling him all sorts of horrible names. I saw a lot of it and it was hard to read, but in a strange way they made his point for him. Some people supported him, but the supporters are never as loud as the non-supporters.
Kaepernick speaking out will more than likely be a fatal blow to his career. This might end his career in San Francisco, he wasn’t going to be the starter anyway, but now there’s a chance he gets cut. Even if he doesn’t, he’s a free agent next year and there’s no chance another NFL team will touch him. He’s a smart guy, he knew this would happen and still spoke out on issues in this country and you have to respect him for that.
Kaepernick didn’t throw a bomb, shoot off a gun, throw a punch, start a fight or anything like that. He just sat there quietly. Now, we need to think about what Kaepernick really said. He basically said that America isn’t a great place right now. Now, I don’t full heartily agree with that. There’s some issues that we need to address and hopefully fix sooner rather than later, but isn’t there an entire political campaign going on right now that’s slogan is “Make America Great Again?” And he has thousands of supporters basically just saying that? No one tells him to leave…but Kaepernick… you go ahead and tell me the difference.