August 14th, 2016. Colin Kapernick and the San Francisco 49ers were slated to play the Houston Texans in the first pre-season game. Before the game even started, Colin was sitting on the bench. Nobody noticed his failure to stand since he was not on the field.
Two weeks later, when he started in the third preseason game, sports casters noticed that he knelt during the national anthem. This sparked a great deal of attention. On August 27th he made headlines with the statement, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Since that statement, hundreds of players have knelt during the national anthem. Additionally, other forms of protest have occurred such as Malcom Jenkins raising his fist during the anthem; a reference to the Black Panther Party.
At the end of the 2016 season, Colin opted out of his contract with the 49ers and since then has been a free agent. He has also begun legal action against the NFL. The complaint filed by Colin’s attorney accuses the NFL owners of collusion to keep him off the field. Incidentally, this was after he failed to secure a contract as a free agent.
The event created a controversial tide which has risen with the passing of time. In response, the NFL created a rule addressing the issue before the start of the 2018-2019 season. If a player is on the field, that player must stand for the National Anthem. However, if they would like to protest, they must stay in the locker room until the anthem is over. Although they passed the rule, the NFL has yet to enforce it.
The protest of the national anthem has become a hot topic in today’s society. Recently, Nike released a video which featured Colin. He stated: “Believe in something, even if it costs you everything.” The popular TV ad has been shown on multiple platforms and has logged over 21 million views on YouTube in just a mere 4 days.
Further compounding this issue, President Trump and the NFL have waged a war of words. Highlighting the tension was the President Trumps’ decision not to invite the reigning Super Bowl Champions on the customary visit to the White House. Moreover, President Trump tweeted after the 2018 opener, “Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparably. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!”
Whether you support the protests or not, it is important to understand all the facts before formulating an opinion. Stay up to date with current events, and try to do so from multiple sources. Certainly, there are many swirling opinions. Ultimately, Kapernick and his critics both touch upon important elements within our society such as freedom of speech and respect for our nation.