In an NFL season in which we had so much to look forward to, such as the preview of rookie quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, as well as the move of the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles, it’s hard to believe that a single action lasting only a few moments by an ordinary player would push those other events aside while putting this brave player on a pedestal.
Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the United States national anthem not only shook the world of sports, but also affected the rest of society with possibly the most controversial topic that took place within recent months excluding politics.
In an act of protest against racial injustice and police brutality, Kaepernick was seen unsympathetically sitting on the bench as the national anthem was sung right before the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers in the third preseason game of the year.
After being unintentionally caught on camera by a 49ers beat writer, the story suddenly broke out and immediately resulted in a multitude of reactions from anyone involved with sports including fans, as well as American soldiers, celebrities, and just about anyone who caught a glimpse of this story.
The response from the public ranged from unapologetically angered citizens voicing their opinion on the “disrespect to the country” that was displayed by the quarterback, to appreciative supporters who expressed their respect towards Kaepernick for being brave enough to use his elevated status as a professional athlete as a way to be an activist for social change.
Kaepernick explained and defended his actions a couple of days after the incident saying, “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
To the many critics that attacked Kaepernick claiming that he was disrespecting the Veterans who fight for his country, they received a response. The response didn’t just come from Kaepernick who conveyed his tremendous respect for the men and women fighting for the country, but the responses that were best heard came from the veterans themselves.
The #VeteransForKaepernick hashtag on twitter took off as the veterans expressed their public support for what Kaepernick was standing for and the way he went about it. The positive responses from many veterans applauding Kaepernick’s courage showed the significance that Kaepernick’s action had to them and proved the legitimacy of his protest.
As for the impact on sports itself, many players from many different teams followed in Kaepernick’s steps either in kneeling, or in their own manner in attempt to protest against racial inequality during the national anthem.
Separate teams even united as a whole to demonstrate a sense of unity in their protests as shown below.
Kaepernick’s influence wasn’t just shown on the television screen or in the likes of social media. His #7 49ers jersey saw a huge increase in sales, going from 6th among players of the 49ers, to 1st among all players in the NFL. In fact, more Kaepernick gear was sold during the week following his protest than the previous 8 months combined. Many famous artists including J. Cole and Trey Songs were shown sporting the jersey as they performed in front of their cheering crowds. J. Cole and Trey Songz also both took to Instagram to further express their support.
Most notably, to further demonstrate the magnitude of the impact this had on society, President Obama even took to the podium to speak about the incident a few days after it took place and asserted that Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional right. The video is in the link below. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/12/sport/colin-kaepernick-nfl-opening-day-reaction-trnd/index.html
At the time of the decision to sit during the national anthem, it’s hard to believe Kaepernick had imagined the immense impact taking a seat would have on society as a whole. In today’s world, where racial injustice seems to be one of the biggest problems at the forefront of America, there couldn’t be a better time to shed a light on this issue, or a better venue, than an NFL stage. As Kaepernick’s goal was to use his louder voice to make issues heard that wouldn’t otherwise be heard, its safe to say that his goal was accomplished, and much more.