Everybody Stand Up for Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is an NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He is currently the backup quarterback on the team, although three years ago Kaepernick was a starting quarterback in Super Bowl XLVII. At the time, many considered the young Kaepernick to be a great quarterback in the making. Since then, his effectiveness on the field has been questioned as his stats have continued to decline. Recently, Kaepernick has been thrust into the national spotlight for more controversial reasons.
During the 49ers’ third preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in August, Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem, which is played before the start of every NFL game. After the game, he explained his actions to the media.
“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,” Kaepernick said. National response for and against the quarterback was quick to spark up, leaving Kaepernick with a deluge of Tweets that range from severely negative to supportive.
Since then, Kaepernick has stated that he will not stand for the national anthem until change occurs. Many Americans have weighed in on the controversy, but one of the most well-known commenters is President Obama.
“My understanding, at least, is he’s exercising his Constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so,” said the President in a statement on September 5.
During the most recent preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem instead of sitting. He was joined in this silent protest by teammate Eric Reid. At the National Women’s Soccer League match, US Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe also kneeled during the national anthem. After the game, Rapinoe commented on her view of the Kaepernick controversy, saying that the way he has been treated is “overtly racist.”
Much of the conversation surrounding Kaepernick’s actions has revolved around the military, with most commentators focusing on whether or not Kaepernick is disrespecting American veterans instead of attempting to make a statement on race relations.
Former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva and current Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman weighed in last week. “I agree that America is not perfect, I agree there are lot of issues with minorities in this country, I agree we should do something about it, but I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down when the national anthem of the country that is providing you freedom and providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year,” explained Villanueva.
In light of all this, Kaepernick’s popularity seems to be at an all-time high. NFL.com has reported that they sold more of Kaepernick’s jersey’s last week than they have in the last eight months.
– Ethan King