Colin Kaepernick: Continuing the Conversation
Keepin' the Play (Conversation) Alive
"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." - Colin Kaepernick
We've seen a lot of professional athletes take a stand against oppression from the past great of Muhammad Ali to today's time of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwayne Wade. So in a way there's nothing novel about Colin expressing his frustration of the current climate in America.
However, the reason people are so angry about him sitting during the national anthem isn't necessarily the message itself, but how and when he is expressing the message. The San Francisco quarterback makes himself an individual during a time when Americans are suppose to put their differences aside and respect the song of America. But at the same time America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. And it's unquestionable that Colin Kaepernik is exercising his freedom, being brave and standing up for what he believes.
Obviously there are two sides to every coin and taking a glance at some of the quotes to arise from sports media anyone can see where the dividing lines lay for a lot of sports fans.
Sit During the Anthem, Sit the Entire Game
"If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game."- John Tortorella
The USA Hockey coach made headlines with this quote recently. To be honest I don't know much about this man or hockey in general, however, his sentiment about Kaepernick I understand and see all throughout social media. A lot of people see Kaepernick's actions as disrespectful to the United States and more pressingly to the men and women who serve this country.
But for what are our soldiers fighting? So everyone can uniformly respect and show pride in a flag and stay in line with how everyone else feels. I'm not a soldier, but I don't think that's what American soldiers risk their lives for everyday.
Disagreeing with how Kaepernick is expressing himself is fine but to go to the extent that Tortorella is implying is dangerous. When people in authority start punishing people under them for expressing themselves within their rights then I think America is regressing towards a much darker past instead of moving forward. However, there are those who stand (or sit) with Colin Kaepernick.
Standing (Sitting) with Kaepernick
"Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It's important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don't need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that's really powerful." - Megan Rapinoe
The world and Olympic soccer champion Megan Rapinoe splashed into the conversation when she decided to kneel during the national anthem at the Washington Spirits' home game. This nod of recognition by another athlete who happens to be white, female and gay was surprising. Especially when you consider the seemingly recent trend of feuds between black males and white females in the media i.e. Taylor Swift /Kanye West and the most recent Lena Dunham/ Odell Beckham Jr.
However it's refreshing that someone outside of the categories of black and or male is actively taking part in continuing the conversation of the issues between the inner city and the police. Just like the 49er's quarterback, Rapinoe has received some mixed attention from not only the media but her own professional team.
"We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent," the Spirit said in a statement. "We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise." - Washington Spirit
It's obvious looking at this quote that Rapinoe's actions make people feel uncomfortable in a positive, peaceful and enlightening way. And like Kaepernick she is exercising her freedom, being brave and standing up for what she believes.
What's Really Important in the Conversation?
Whether you agree or disagree that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful is your opinion. Everyone in the world can have their own opinion. However, what makes America so special is that people can express their opinions in a peaceful manner. So at the end of the day trying to punish or deem someone un-American for expressing themselves is dangerous and not what America represents.