In the lead up to the 2016 National Football League season San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is getting much more attention for his sideline protest than for his performance on the field. As you have no doubt heard, Kaepernick is refusing to stand up for the pre-game playing of the American national anthem. He states that the anthem represents a country that discriminates against people of colour and he therefore will not stand for its playing.
This has sparked a debate not about racism, but about Kaepernick’s choice of protest method. While there has been a vocal backlash against his refusal to stand, including posted videos of people burning his jersey, others have supported his stance, including several fellow NFL players. CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill said Kaepernick was principled and went on to defend his actions.
The easy thing to do is to make fun of Kap and his play. How about trying to understand where he’s coming from….but that would be too hard
— Adrian Clayborn (@AJaClay) August 27, 2016
Interestingly here in Quebec there was a time not so long ago when some people attending sports events chose to sit during the Canadian national anthem. Many of those who sought sovereignty for the Province of Quebec deemed Canada to be the oppressor and therefore would not stand for the anthem. Of course it was pointed out to them that the currency they used also was Canadian and if they found that offensive there would be no shortage of takers should they wish to jettison their cash! I don’t seem to see this anymore as a generation has passed and the momentum of the sovereignty movement has been slowed by economic realities.
The question remains: is Kaepernick’s a legitimate means of protest? Clearly no one can question his cause, the issue is how he is going about things. When John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their gloved hands while on the medal podium at the 1968 Olympics they were representing themselves in an individual sport. Kaepernick wears a uniform and plays a team sport, perhaps he should have explained his intentions to his teammates prior to acting. They say there is no “I” in “Team”, but does that apply to making political statements as well as playing the game itself? Also, national anthems represent many facets of a country, by protesting one do you protest them all?