For the first three weeks of the preseason in 2016, Colin Kaepernick was seen sitting on a bench during the national anthem. After speaking to Nate Boyer an Army Green Beret and long snapper in the NFL, Colin decided to kneel instead of sit on the bench. Boyer explained to him it would be more respectful than sitting.
On September 1st in 2016, the world was in shock as Colin Kaepernick was seen kneeling during the national anthem before the 49ers final preseason game. After the game, Kaepernick was questioned about the kneeling. He said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
May 25th 2020, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer after he knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while three other officers sat by and watched. Protests erupted over the unlawful action of the officer.
What does this event have to do with sports? Players since Kaepernick had been kneeling to bring attention to police brutality and the distrust between the African-American community and the police.
What people failed to see was Kaepernick’s protest was not about the flag or the military. The kneeling was to bring attention to a serious issue in the United States that makes most people go silent when it’s brought up.
Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, was quoted as saying “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corps.”
When this interview was released many athletes around the world reacted strongly to Brees words, including many NFL players and even his own teammates. Drew Brees has since issued an apology. According to reports he had a team meeting that went well, but the damage is done.
The problem with what Brees said shows how even NFL players are confused about the protest. It has nothing to do with the flag or the military. It was for all African Americans who are beaten or killed in police custody. The Eric Garner’s, the Michael Brown’s, the Sandra Bland’s, and the Freddie Gray’s. That’s who the protests and the kneeling are for.
Most news outlets seem to act like athletes can’t have opinions on social matters telling players to shut up and play ball, but we forget they are human. They have every right to stand up for what they believe. Athletes want the best for their kids and want them to live in a world where they can go by a cop and not fear for their life.
The NFL has the biggest platform in the United States and with the NBA officially coming back in July, I expect players, and coaches to use their platform for good. We as a society can no longer act like there isn’t a disconnect between officers and the people they are supposed to protect.
I get it on Sunday or during any sporting event no one wants to hear about politics, or problems in our world. Sports are supposed be an escape from real life problems, but we can’t continue to ignore these issues.
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