Kaepernick At The Center Of Controversy
The controversial world of sports just keeps getting better. First, the Ryan Lochte scandal that’s tarnished his name for the time being; now, football stars might be right behind him.
Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, is at the root of recent controversy, and he means to be there.
On Friday night, August 26, Kaepernick refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem during the game against Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium (this is not the first time he has done so, as he reportedly did the same during at least one other preseason game).
To make matters even more controversial, his reason for remaining seated during the anthem involves recent wrongdoings against minorities in the U.S., more specifically the current strain between police officers and African Americans.
In light of these supposedly racially charged killings, Kaepernick has taken a stand, and he’s sticking to it.
According to his statement during an interview with NFL 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.”
And his team appears to be backing up this decision.
According to a statement issued by the 49ers:
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Even the head coach, Chip Kelly, told reporters following Friday’s game that his decision is “his right as a citizen” and “it’s not my right to tell him not to do something.”
And the NFL also commented, claiming “players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
So while no one is outwardly supporting Kaepernick in his stance, he’s also not alone.
In fact, he joins athletes like Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in standing up for minority issues in the U.S. WNBA players have also been known to use their popularity to advocate for such issues.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily in the right, and many are vocal in regards to Kaepernick’s stance.
For one thing, he’s outwardly, purposely, refusing to support the American flag, which is a big deal as a U.S. citizen, and one that many don’t take lightly. For many, this is a sign of dishonor.
This has happened previously with NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson before converting to Islam).
Abdul-Rauf refused to acknowledge the American flag in protest because it conflicted with his Islamic beliefs, and this resulted in a suspension from the NBA before an eventual compromise which ended with him standing during the national anthem in following games.
So this isn’t the first time a form of protest has created controversy where it probably isn’t needed, and it likely won’t be the last.
Still, Kaepernick has made his decision.
According to him, “This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
He reportedly took his time to think through this decision, claiming he didn’t go public right away with his stance because he “felt that [he] needed to understand the situation better.”
He claims that after seeing the “civil unrest” in the U.S., he decided to become more involved in promoting rights for black people.
And of course, this decision comes at a point where Kaepernick’s football career is up in the air. While he was originally drafted by the 49ers in a second round pick in 2011 and went on to become the Super Bowl starting quarterback, he lost his job as a starter last season.
And to make matters worse, his relationship with the management of the 49ers has taken a turn for the worst as well, especially since he asked to be traded last spring but never got it.
Plus, his off season was largely spent with rehabilitation and recovery time, which hasn’t helped him gain any ground against Blaine Gabbert as starting quarterback.
And in his debut this season against Green Bay, he came in during the second quarter and only completed two of his six passes for a gain of 14 yards. Then again, he hasn’t played since last November.
But despite this, coach Chip Kelly reiterates that Kaepernick hasn’t been in talks to be cut from the team, and assures reporters that he wouldn’t be cut for his recent stance on some controversial issues.
According to him, any decisions will be made based on football.
But either way, Kaepernick’s in quite a controversial pickle.
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