It is always important to stand up for what you believe in. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did just that—by sitting down during the National Anthem ceremony in a preseason football game against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick intended his refusal to participate to highlight his frustration with how cops mishandle interactions with African Americans and minorities across the US.
The quarterback has received negative media attention from sports writers and casual fans for skipping out on the pregame tradition. For instance, former NFL quarterback and NFL analyst Trent Dilfer derided Kaepernick by stating that he “is a backup quarterback whose job is to be quiet and sit in the shadows. Yet he chose a time where he became the center of attention and it has disrupted the organization and torn at the fabric of the team.”
Kaepernick’s handling of the situation regarding police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the National Anthem is far from ideal. He is advocating a message to end gun violence and racial profiling, but does so while neglecting an important American tradition that means a great deal to many people. The correlation between the two subjects is weak; he should opt to speak out in a different way. There are clearly more direct and transparent ways of communicating his message to the public.
Many people believe that Kaepernick’s alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement should have been expressed in a different manner. The quarterback apparently slighted the entire country by ignoring the Anthem. The United States of America’s national anthem is a song that celebrates patriotism and unity, a cornerstone of nationalism, and US citizens take that to heart. Kaepernick’s defended his actions by stating that “this is bigger than football and it would be selfish to look the other way.”
There have been other instances of protest for the Black Lives Matter movement that have garnered more positive feedback. In the opening moments of the ESPYs, four marquee NBA superstars gave a speech that expressed their displeasure with the racial divide between police officers and civilians, citing the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, to name a few. Their concern with this issue was explicit and they received no backlash for their criticism of the actions of officers in crime-riddled cities. This just goes to show that there are more direct means of confronting this problem without tarnishing a sacred American tradition.
To Kaepernick’s credit, however, his actions are seemingly very effective, as it has remained a headline for longer than any other type of protest. He even created ripple waves throughout the NFL as numerous other players have joined the protest, either taking a knee or raising a fist during “The Star Spangled Banner.”
When it is all said and done, Kaepernick has effected critical change to the narrative of this movement by taking a stand and utilizing his platform to make a profound statement. Although many people have a problem with his methods, he has sparked a permanent conversation that has garnered intensive media coverage unlike any other figure in sports has for the BLM movement in past years.