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Colin Kaepernick is a name that many American Football fans have known for years, but he has become a much more important figure in the past few months. He has polarized the country and has even brought other countries’ attentions to the issues that he sees important. His actions of kneeling during the national anthem in the pregame of NFL games have brought global attention to a national issue. His statements made shortly after he began his protests told the world that he was protesting a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.” He was not the only one protesting this way and was joined by many of the league’s other athletes shortly after. Many of the league’s officials were upset by this, and it even got the attention, and comments, of the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. A few months after these actions, Nike unveiled their newest advertising campaign with Kaepernick as the face. This caused even more debate and created an even bigger divide between the two sides either supporting him or calling for him to be axed as a sponsor.
Donald Trump is one of many people who are against the protests and was very clear with his comments regarding those who protested. His calls for players to be fired were met with mixed reactions. Britt McHenry of Fox News discussed Kaepernick’s advertising campaign and accused him of not having a clue what “sacrificing everything” meant, twisting the campaign slogan around on the former NFL quarterback. Many on this side believe that Kaepernick’s protests were done in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. One of the main arguments this side has is that he could have done it at any other time instead of disrespecting the country and those who have fought for it. While some on this side will see the meaning behind the protests, they agree that it didn’t need to incorporate the national anthem and disrespecting it. Those against Kaepernick’s actions have also pointed out a rule in the NFL game operations manual which states that all players must “stand at attention” during the national anthem (Thiessen, 2017). In their eyes, it is not only morally wrong, but also breaks the rules of the National Football League.
While the opposite side of this poses good points, there is much more to it than just protesting. Many on the other side understand just that he is protesting, but don’t delve deeper into what he is protesting for. Kaepernick was trying to get people’s attention to address the treatment of minorities and police brutality which are both huge issues in the United States. He was using his platform as an NFL player to promote a positive message. When asked about kneeling, Kaepernick responded by saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” (Branch, 2017). Many people have an issue with this because it challenged the thinking of those in the United States. Many white people were ignoring the constant mistreatment of minorities, and never really gave it much attention, which is why Kaepernick tried to challenge it. Those who say that Kaepernick chose the wrong medium to send his message don’t understand that that is exactly what he wanted. What he did may have been morally wrong, but it got the complete attention of the country, which is what he intended. If he were to use some other method of communication to send his message, it would quite likely not have anywhere near to the same effect.
This is a very polarizing topic, and quite a controversial one, but some agreements can be made. I agree that it is disrespectful to kneel for the flag, however, it got his message across. He chose a very sensitive way to communicate his message, and quite rightly received criticism for it.
While the method of communication may have been a poor choice, this should not discount the message. He was calling for serious reform to the way of thinking in this country, but many people never got that. Many on the opposite side focused more on the actions of Kaepernick rather than the message. To promote an agreement between the two sides, I would suggest looking at the deeper meaning of his actions and not just see it as him kneeling during the national anthem. What he did was supposed to stimulate the thinking of the public, but that was never done, and the message was thus lost in translation. Colin Kaepernick is calling attention to a serious cultural issue in the United States and dismissing it this easily because of him disrespecting the flag is foolish and will only widen the gap between the two sides.
Branch, J. (2017, September 07). The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
McHenry, B. (2018, September 04). Colin Kaepernick doesn't have a clue about what 'sacrificing everything' really means. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
Thiessen, M. (2017, September 25). Disrespecting the flag is a disgraceful way to protest Trump. Retrieved September 25, 2018.