By: Kylan Watson
On Friday, August 26th, 2016 a routine preseason game was getting ready to take place between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. The game was made more exciting by the 2016 debut of Niners Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. However, before the game began a picture was taken of Colin Kaepernick sitting down during the playing of the national anthem, while all his teammates and coaches were standing at attention. Kaepernick’s action of sitting during the anthem set off a fierce debate in this country, about patriotism and racial strife.
Kaepernick said, “I’ll continue to stand with the people who are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change — and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/columnist/bell/2016/08/27/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest-san-francisco-49ers/89485948/?hootPostID=68811aa4940cbda719e07c7f43e32bbf, 8-28-2016).
It became clear that this was not just a political stunt, Kaepernick had educated himself on the issues, African-Americans were currently going through, and he used his platform to speak on it. He used his constitutional right to not stand for national anthem as a jump off point to talk about police brutality, crime, and other issues plaguing the African-American community.
Kaepernick’s actions were not widely liked, as many people on Twitter and other social media sites called Kaepernick un-American, and said his actions disrespected current members and veterans of the armed forces. Some NFL players did not even agree with Kaepernick not standing or showing respect for the flag and the national anthem.
Victor Cruz a wide receiver for the New York Giants said, “I think, personally, the flag is the flag. Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things like that. You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2016/08/28/victor-cruz-colin-kaepernick-national-anthem/89506934/, 8-28-16). Cruz was not the only current NFL player who thought Kaepernick should have stood up for the national anthem.
Malcolm Jenkins a defensive safety for the Philadelphia Eagles said, “If you want change and you want things to get better across the country, there’s different ways to go about it. What’s going to get lost is all the stuff that he was trying to point out.” (http://www.espn.com/blog/philadelphia-eagles/post/_/id/18041/malcolm-jenkins-supports-colin-kaepernick-but-not-the-chosen-gesture, 8-28-16).
It has come out that Kaepernick has been sitting during the national anthem during the preseason. His action only now entered the consciousness of the public, because he chose to sit down during a nationally televised preseason game.
Kaepernick’s actions have once again highlighted the return of black athletes to activism; Kaepernick decided that he could no longer stay silent, while watching all of these injustices are done to African-Americans. Kaepernick has decided to use his platform to advocate for his people. Myke Tavarres a rookie middle linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Has decided to follow Kaepernick, Tavarres also has chosen to sit during the national anthem for the rest of the preseason. It remains to be seen if other NFL players will follow Kaepernick and Tavarres and sit during the national anthem. One thing is for sure Kaepernick’s actions have us talking about the racial history and injustices in this country once again.