On Protests in Football! Colin Kaepernick

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline, during the anthem, prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers defeated the 49ers 46-27. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

September 13, 2016

So this football player is kneeling before a song at a football game and half the nation is in an uproar?

As perplexing it is to see so many people dispense such impassioned opinions on this situation with Colin Kaepernick, it’s disappointing how exposed our populace’s divisive and hateful attitude has been by a simple kneel before a football game.

Kaepernick has inspired many throughout the nation to exercise their freedoms of expression in similar fashion; he has also inspired others to tell 12-year-old kids in New York they should ‘hang like monkeys’ for doing so.

Kaepernick is a stupid mother fucker, says a friend of mine and in agreement is a waitress at our local bar; because he makes so much money he should be grateful rather than risk his posh position in life.  Some can’t imagine, given his position, why anyone would do that.

Which is true, it’s hard to imagine but it’s a bit like saying if you were a billionaire you would do everything you could to pay taxes.  No, you wouldn’t.  You’d hire tax lawyers to do their job.

Question WHY he would take that risk; Why expose oneself?

Another friend’s issue is that he should do more.  Give money to people, come up with solutions.  It makes sense, and I agree EVERYONE should do more, but criticizing effort not enough in your mind seems to push the idea that perhaps he shouldn’t have done anything at all in the first place.

The question I have seems to be on no one’s mind; why do they even play the national anthem before sporting events anyway?  No other nation’s sports leagues force their patriotism before games, and no other mass entertainment in America pushes the idea down your throat like sports.  It was just recently that our Armed Forces were legally compelled to stop paying the NFL for military advertising disguised as patriotism.

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I get it, it’s historical!  Much the same argument will be made years from now on why we stick it to Allah by playing “God Bless America” during every seventh inning stretch in a baseball game.   Remember 9/11?  How could we forget?  You remind us every day.

As an adult, if you’ve ever experienced the pledge of allegiance at a grade school, it can be creepy.  We question how some past societies can blindly goose step down the street but if someone wants to make a stand (or take a knee) they are threatened with death for exercising the very freedom we supposedly support our armed forces to defend.

And go to football games.  Watch people update their fantasy football lineups, check other scores or drink their beer while the national anthem is being played.  Or maybe they are checking out the latest dog meme their friend posted on Facebook.   I myself, admittedly, have my own distractions during the anthem.   Or you can continue to focus on one man who shouldn’t take a knee because he is perceived to be in a great position in life.

Question WHY he would take that knee rather than find reasons why you wouldn’t do it yourself.

The true beauty of the Kaepernick situation is that by simply taking a knee he has aroused much of what we as a society have ignored.  There is a very real bifurcation on how we see race in this country that needs to be addressed.

Bombastically explaining his lack of respect for Kaepernick, Mike Ditka shouts from his white tower built on football legacy that “I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on,” and “if [Kaepernick] doesn’t like this country, he can get the hell out.”

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NBC NFL Analyst Rodney Harrison suggests that because Kaepernick is not black he can’t fight for injustice.  Despite the fact he is half black, which in our society makes you 100% black, that inaccuracy is not the whole of the ignorance of his rationale.  What kind of message does that tell anyone who is not black?   Your support is not welcome as injustice is solely our issue and we’ll handle it?!?

Kaepernick is symbolically lynched in some circles for ‘disrespecting America’ while Ryan Lochte embarrasses America and gets rewarded with high ratings on his dancing show.  Presidential nominee Donald Trump assures military veterans, who have explained en masse they served for Kaepernick’s right to protest, that he will fight people like Kaepernick.

Ultimately there really is no “right” place for protest, because then it wouldn’t really be a protest, would it? What everyone apparently wants is an army of athletes who never disturb their TV viewing pleasure.  Trained to tune in at tipoff, to make a beeline for the concession stands or exits when the game ends, we don’t typically notice what our athletes do off the field. We conveniently choose what we want to see and hear.

That’s the whole objective of Kaepernick’s protest, of any protest really. From Muhammad Ali refusing to fight in Vietnam to John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their hands in a rare Olympic political gesture in 1968, to the Los Angeles Clippers’ wearing their warmups inside out after Donald Sterling’s racist phone chatter came to light, the objective an athlete’s protest is all about creating dissonance, a disturbance.

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I, for one, thank Colin Kaepernick for sparking a thought.  Creating an opportunity to discuss.  Simply by taking a knee during a song before a professional football game, the most hallowed of commercialized Americana.

*Since publishing this, Colin Kapernick NOT voting (and being proud of that inaction) kind of ruins all his credibility.  Fuck him, he’s a moron.

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