For the entire NFL preseason, and now what appears to be dragging into the NFL season, Colin Kaepernick has been protesting the playing of the United States National Anthem by refusing to stand. Throughout the entire social controversy, my thoughts and perceptions have teetered back and forth. The Super Bowl quarterback is risking quite a lot in his protest in terms of his reputation and career. In regards to this, I do respect his persistence regardless of the scrutiny, and for that I commend him.
Recently, I read an article on CNN explaining that the anthem was written by Francis Scott Key, a slave-owning anti-abolitionist. His song even mentions slavery, and describes how in the context of its time period, it was socially acceptable. One does not have to be an African American to understand why Kaepernick and, as of recently, other NFL players refuse to stand for a nation’s song.
The issue I see in this, however, is that Kaepernick is not specifically protesting the National Anthem. He is making a point about America not supporting African Americans. The bigger picture I see within this ordeal comes from the fact that Kaepernick has yet to make specific proposals for “fixing” what he thinks needs to be “fixed.” Professional athletes, whether they like it or not, are iconic figures to the public, and their actions echo louder than most of them tend to think. If Kaepernick really wants to see change, should he not do more than just boycott the National Anthem?
Mass media is a very effective, very powerful tool. Once a trend catches on social media or a notable online figure takes a stand, it becomes very difficult to ignore. If the higher powers, and those who set the agenda, choose to ignore a public concern this big, there is destined backlash.
I support that Kaepernick is practicing his First Amendment right. However, unless he is willing to strive to be an active part of the solution, he cannot expect anything less of the scrutiny he is receiving. Anyone can sit down during a song, the real challenge, I see, in this is “standing up” for what you believe in.
Zac is a senior public relation student and a student athlete at the university. As a three year starter on the varsity football team, Zac also competed in track and field last spring. Zac is a member of the WUPRSSA Executive Board, serving as treasurer, along with a member of Waynesburg’s Business club. Zac also serves as a representative of Waynesburg’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes.