Why I Don’t Care That Colin Kaepernick Sat During The National Anthem
San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench instead of standing while the national anthem was played during Friday’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. When questioned about it after the game, Kaepernick claimed he sat out the anthem as a form of protest of the plight of African-Americans in the United States.
The following is an excerpt from an ESPN.com article by Ian O’Connor:
“’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’s Steve Wyche. ‘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.’”
Needless to say, Kaepernick’s act of defiance has drawn attention in the sports world. There is massive debate whether Kaepernick’s actions were un-American, selfish, and even disrespectful of those who serve our country so courageously.
I understand why it’s a topic a lot of people want to talk about. In this time of social and political turmoil, the words and actions of any prominent figure when it comes to topics such as race should be discussed and evaluated by the media. It’s good for the public to hear not only what the figure has to say, but the opinions of others on what was said. But Kaepernick’s actions didn’t exactly light me aflame with indignation, and there are a few reasons why.
1) Kaepernick has a legitimate grievance. Anyone who won’t admit that this country and its police target blacks for violence and other injustice is ignorant, biased, or flat-out racist. Police shoot unarmed black men who don’t present any real threat and get away with it. African-Americans are forced into dangerous, low-income areas because this country doesn’t give them as much of a chance to succeed. This much has been established.
This is not an athlete making a commotion over some imagined slight. This is a biracial man, raised by white parents, who is aware of the obstacles facing people who share his skin color and wanting to make a difference. Kaepernick has the right to express his opinion, just the same as any American citizen, including those who rip his actions. To suggest that what Kaepernick did is un-American would fly in the face of everything America is built on.
I can’t say I agree with how he chose to go about it. I think there are better ways to speak out about the atrocities the government has committed against African-Americans than sulking on the bench while the country’s anthem plays. That suggests that he is incriminating all Americans in his accusations, which is simply not fair. He shouldn’t make a point about the country at large when there are so many people of all races who work for the same cause that he claims. But this is just my opinion.
2) There is nothing to suggest Kaepernick broke any type of rule. The NFL said itself in a statement Saturday that players are “encouraged, but not required” to stand for the national anthem. The 49ers won’t punish him, so Kaepernick didn’t break any team rules. He did nothing that flew in the face of authority.
What people seem to have a problem with is the unwritten rule of respecting one’s own country, and the representation of the military in the flag and anthem that Kaepernick refused to acknowledge.
No one can tell anyone how or how much to love one’s country, so that argument is way off-base. Another point that I abhor is the notion that Kaepernick is selfish to disparage the country that has given him the opportunity to earn millions of dollars. Kaepernick earned his way to the NFL, no one ever gave him (or any NFL player for that matter) a spot on a team on a silver platter. We want black athletes to speak out on issues that matter to them and not worry about the financial hit they make take because of it, but then we throw that money in their face and call them selfish when they do speak out? Come on.
As for the military… that complaint I can understand. I am very appreciative of what those in service do every day to protect me, my family, and everyone in America. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t agree with the way that Kaepernick went about this. Whether it makes sense or not, the American flag has a heavy implication towards military personnel. Even though I don’t think he meant it this way, Kaepernick’s actions did come across as disrespectful to those who serve our country, which is where I draw the line.
But none of these is the biggest reason that I don’t care about Kaepernick sitting out the anthem…
3) Kaepernick isn’t good enough anymore for me to care about anything he does. We have to view these guys through the prism of their profession. In America, we care about people who are the best at what they do. That’s why we ask people like LeBron James and Cam Newton to carry the torch for their people and speak out on these issues; they are the ones who little kids look up to. They are the ones who need to set an example because the eyes of the next generation are on them.
But Kaepernick doesn’t fit into that level of on-field performance. His yards per attempt fell from 8.3 in the 49ers’ 2012 Super Bowl campaign to 7.7 the next year to 7.0 and finally to 6.6 last year, according to Pro Football Reference. In that same time frame his QB rating has dropped from 98.3 to 78.5. His touchdown percentage (5.0% in 2013 to 2.5% in 2015) and interception percentage (1.4% in 2012 to 2.1% in 2014 and 2.0% last year) have also taken a turn for the worst. Last year he lost the starter’s role to Blaine Freaking Gabbert, and, possibly more importantly, was unable to win the job back from Gabbert when given time to prove himself.
In short, Kaepernick made himself irrelevant with his play, so I can’t be bothered to get in a tizzy about what in-game protests he may take part in. Kaepernick has said he will continue to sit out the national anthem, and I certainly believe he has every right and justification to do so. But he better get it in while he can, because he might not be in the league much longer.
Originally published at satkia.blogspot.com on August 29, 2016.