Staff Debates: The Colin Kaepernick Debate

Dusty Hartl and Justin St. Peter

Kneel

Like it or not, many athletes are considered heroes. We, as a society, encourage athletes to speak their mind, lead by example, and set good example for today’s youth.

So then why are many mad at Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, when he chose to sit and then kneel for the National Anthem?

It is because people are missing the entire point of his protest. When Kaepernick first sat on the bench during the playing of the National Anthem, during the 49ers preseason games on August 14 and 20, nobody noticed.

The public noticed when he sat for the third preseason game on August 26 when a 49ers reporter tweeted out a picture during the anthem that happened to show Kaepernick sitting. Following the game, the 49ers released a statement saying they stood with his right to protest which Kaepernick explained.

“I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaerpernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

Immediately, the outrage began. People from model Kate Upton, to former MLB manager Tony La Russa, to pundit Bill O’Reilly, to many sportscasters, were fired up about how he chose to protest his cause. Instead of focusing on his words and what he was attempting to protest, they instead took it as him disrespecting our military and being a disgrace to our country.

It didn’t matter that veterans spoke out agreeing with Kaepernick’s stance, there was a hashtag created #VeteransforKaepernick on Twitter. Countless veterans backed his stance, black and white alike.

During the final preseason game on Sept. 1, Kaepernick was joined by his teammate, Eric Reid, before it continued picking up to many players throughout the NFL. This protest is gaining steam in other sports leagues as well.

Kaepernick has maintained his stance that he is not disrespecting the military at all. In fact, he met with former NFL player and Green Beret, Nate Boyer, who gave him the idea to take a knee instead of sitting during the anthem to keep the focus on what he was protesting and not the military disrespect.

Kaepernick and the 49ers organization have each pledged $1 million to charities supporting racial issues, yet many people are still hijacking his cause and saying he is disrespecting both the military and the country.

My simple question is how?

He has explained his reasoning, which is valid, by reminding the public of the many recent deaths of innocent African-Americans  by cops who have not been rightfully punished.

Being a police officer is an extremely difficult job. When you leave for your shift, you and your family both have to face the very possible reality that you might not make it home. I have nothing but respect for the police community, but it is the actions of bad seeds in some of these police departments that are giving the community a bad name everywhere and contributing to the rapidly escalating racial tension across the country.

When Kaepernick wore socks depicting police officers as pigs during a practice in the preseason, he crossed a line in my mind. He was criticized rightly by many, but his message should not be dismissed.

Please stop making this about the disrespect of the military, or the country. This is about sparking a conversation about change in race relations all across America. To say that race relations in today’s country are not a problem, you are seriously misguided. Learn the facts, and think critically about what Kaepernick and fellow athletes are protesting.

Even with the bad publicity that the NFL has received based on off-the-field incidents, this is a great story that is gaining more and more steam. There is a reason that Kaepernick’s jersey is currently the No. 1 seller in the NFL.

This is a case of a player kneeling for what he believes in and doing something to promote positive change. Isn’t this what you want out of your athletes?

 Justin St. Peter, Royal Purple Sports Editor

Stand

Over the last few weeks, many athletes are gaining publicity for kneeling during the national anthem, following a move made by 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.

Many athletes believe that this one decision is helping fuel the fires of a “revolution” against injustice, but in reality it is watering down the flames of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It is acknowledged and respected that Kaepernick, and many other athletes, hold the right to protest, but it is said that there is a time and place for such a protest. I believe that during the national anthem is not the time, nor is it the place.

When people stand for the national anthem, it is not about whether or not you agree with issues within our country,.It is about respecting those who give you the right to hold that opinion, freely, about what is happening within our country.

When we stand for the national anthem, it is not just because we are extremely nationalistic, we stand because we wish to honor those fighting for our rights every day for next to nothing in return. It is about respecting all of our veterans, past and present, of every color, of every faith, of every background, and from every part of the country.

When you do not stand for the national anthem not only are you showing intolerance, but you are showing disrespect against every person who has died or has fought for our country. I doubt there is not a single person who does not know a veteran of some form.

This form of protest is not only disrespecting veterans, but it is also estingushing the flames the Black Lives Matter movement.

When these high profile athletes protest in this form, they are saying that the black community in the military does not matter. They are simply disregarding the fact that black military members matter, too.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. “ When he said this, he was not just speaking about that time and it can still be relevant today.

These protests are causing an injustice. They are leaving behind the fact that hundreds of thousands of men and women, black and white, gay and straight, from every background imaginable, have died for our freedom to protest. They are forgetting that standing for the national anthem is not an agreement to the issues of our time, but it is out of respect for those who are fighting, and dying, for our ability to disagree.

Even when individuals are not from our country, it is not uncommon for them to stand for our national anthem. How can this be? I believe it is out of respect. Respect for our country, which many have forgotten about.

So, I encourage everyone to boycott the injustice that Colin Kaepernick is portraying and all I ask in return is to thank a veteran today because God knows they probably haven’t been thanked in a while.

Veterans, thank you for your service to our great nation.

Dusty Hartl, Royal Purple Opinions Editor

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