Kaepernick sparks controversy in the NFL and among its fans

(Left to right) Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem. Photo courtesy of usatoday.com
(Left to right) Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem.
Photo courtesy of usatoday.com

Controversy has taken over the National Football League as someone of influence has finally taken issue with the fact that the words “the land of the free and the home of the brave” were written by a slave ownerThe stand – actually, the seat – taken by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a movement in the NFL when he chose not to remain on his feet during the national anthem before a preseason game. Kaepernick made the gesture in protest against a national anthem that is supposed to represent justice and equality in a country that has represented anything but of late.

The stand – actually, the seat – taken by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a movement in the NFL when he chose not to remain on his feet during the national anthem before a preseason game. Kaepernick made the gesture in protest against a national anthem that is supposed to represent justice and equality in a country that has represented anything but of late. While the move hasn’t necessarily elevated Kaepernick to the status of Muhammad Ali, who lost three years of his boxing career because of his stance against the Vietnam War, it has certainly made a difference. Despite scathing accusations of anti-patriotism against his gesture, others in the NFL and players in other sports have emulated it. United States women’s national soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, along with various high school and college sports teams, have joined the cause.

While the move hasn’t necessarily elevated Kaepernick to the status of Muhammad Ali, who lost three years of his boxing career because of his stance against the Vietnam War, it has certainly made a difference. Despite scathing accusations of anti-patriotism against his gesture, others in the NFL and players in other sports have emulated it. United States women’s national soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe, along with various high school and college sports teams, have joined the cause. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview. “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.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an interview. “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.“If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

“If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”Kaepernick made his statement without informing his team or anyone affiliated with the NFL, stating that he wasn’t looking for approval. Aware that there was a possibility of strong backlash, Kaepernick followed his conscience.

Kaepernick made his statement without informing his team or anyone affiliated with the NFL, stating that he wasn’t looking for approval. Aware that there was a possibility of strong backlash, Kaepernick followed his conscience.The 49ers and the NFL have both released statements saying that while they appreciate and encourage the tradition of the national anthem, their players are entitled to their right of expression. Chip Kelly, the 49ers head coach, even said following Kaepernick’s initial protests that it was his place to advise Kaepernick in relation to football matters and nothing more, so he would not be jeopardizing Kaepernick’s position based on his political stance.

The 49ers and the NFL have both released statements saying that while they appreciate and encourage the tradition of the national anthem, their players are entitled to their right of expression. Chip Kelly, the 49ers head coach, even said following Kaepernick’s initial protests that it was his place to advise Kaepernick in relation to football matters and nothing more, so he would not be jeopardizing Kaepernick’s position based on his political stance. The pregame

The pregame sit-down even drew attention at the G20 summit in China. President Barack Obama made an important point regarding the Kaepernick situation.

“When it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past,” said Obama. “But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he’s generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.”

It can be readily be seen where some people are drawing offense as patriotism and the fight to continue to fly the American flag is very dear and near to some.

However, those people are still refusing to see past their personal discomfort with Kaepernick’s action to see the intentions and motivations behind it. Some refuse to acknowledge the cause that he feels strongly for, especially confusing when Kaepernick has spoken time and time again to clarify his actions.

“The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-military, and that’s not the case at all,” Kaepernick said according to news provider NBC Bay Area. “I realize the men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee.”

Recently a trending topic on twitter has been #NFLBoycott, a thread encouraging people to stop watching football. The reason: because it is simply so outrageous that a man stood up against systemized oppression in this country.

Never mind that it was perfectly fine to keep watching after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his fiancee in an elevator and dragged her out by the limbs in front of a camera. Or when New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was allowed to keep playing despite multiple violent brushes with the law until he was finally found guilty of murder in the first degree.

Even law enforcement has weighed in on this boycott. The Santa Clara police union wrote a letter to the 49ers claiming that if they didn’t take action against Kaepernick, they would consider not working 49ers games anymore. Many officers of the union spread the word that they wouldn’t be going into work at Levi’s Stadium on Sept. 12 during the 49ers game, which begged the question of how much these police officers may or may not have cared for public safety.

Most people in the professional world don’t get to take out their personal feelings in their work environment and it’s certainly concerning when the people that are assigned to protect us regardless of our opinions, are refusing to protect us over our opinions.

Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers served as a voice of reason in the whole ordeal, advising his officers to prioritize the safety and well-being of the community over all else. He encouraged officers to protect the constitutional rights of every citizen regardless of their personal views.

Brushing over serious moral, ethical and legal issues has seemingly been a long- standing theme with the NFL. I find it tremendously hard to take seriously anyone who is deciding they don’t want to watch the NFL anymore after Kaepernick’s incident when Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones was during his career arrested nine times for everything from vandalism to misdemeanor to drug charges. According to the USA Today, San Diego Union Tribune and Sportrac online databases, out of the 624 infractions by NFL athletes, only 124 reprimands and $3.6 million of fines have resulted.

When people like Hernandez are being given the title of “All-American” and Kaepernick is being deemed un-American for supporting racial equality, it isn’t hard to see why he would kneel during the national anthem in the first place. Yes, this country has fought relentlessly to defend the rights and freedoms of its citizens, but that doesn’t remove the flaws in its social system and it doesn’t invalidate Kaepernick’s point.

Thankfully, there are some who see it that way. For as much backlash as he’s receiving for his repeated refusal to stand for the national anthem, Kaepernick is also receiving support from fellow football players from the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, among others. High school football players across the country have been following in suit, showing that the protest has reached the people, the main demographic that Kaepernick was trying to influence.

By the way, not all veterans or law enforcement agents have been accusing Kaepernick of disrespect. To counter the NFL Boycott hashtag, veterans started to trend #veteransforkaepernick. Many of the tweets under that tag state that veterans themselves have fought for Kaepernick and other’s rights to stand up for what they believe and that he shouldn’t be demonized for doing so.

There are two sides to the coin of the controversy surrounding Kaepernick and the bigger picture that’s reflected in the message he and many athletes before him have tried to get across. While the louder and more initial response from the public displays a lack of deeper thought, many others have come forward to show that not all hope for open-minded thinking and progress has been lost in our society.

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