While I’m almost completely sick of hearing about Colin Kaepernick, other players’ protests, and the NFL, there’s something that needs to be talked about first. Then we can finally put this issue to bed and stop giving the disrespectful men who are participating in this ridiculous form of protest the attention they so crave.
If you don’t live under a rock, you have heard by now about San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick (and now multiple other players from his own team as well as others) protesting the racial “inequality” in America by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Of course, he has a first amendment right to express himself however he may choose just like I have the right to say it’s a dumb and disrespectful as well as an ineffective way to make a point. The problem I’ve been having with this entire issue though, the more I hear about it, is the fact that the NFL and these teams aren’t doing anything about it.
While Kaepernick, and the other players protesting have a constitutional right to free speech, they don’t necessarily get to express that opinion when representing an organization. The NFL would be well within the law to tell players to knock it off when in uniform representing their organization. We’ve seen this line drawn before: the United States Navy had a similar incident take place not long after Kaepernick’s first childish sit-down. A sailor stationed at NAS Pensacola filmed a video of herself refusing to stand during colors (when the flag is lowered at the end of the day on a military base while the national anthem is typically played). The sailor is being disciplined by the Navy but they said in their statement that the sailor in question would be allowed to participate in the same kind of protest off base and not in uniform. It’s a perfect example of how a citizen’s right to free speech can still be respected while an organization can make sure that they are not being represented in a negative way.
If Kaepernick, a guy who makes nearly 20 million dollars to throw a football, believes that there is racial inequality in America; that’s fine. If he wants to protest it, that’s also fine. But Colin, here’s a tip for you: if you want to make a real difference, try to protest in a way that is relevant. Join a peaceful march, volunteer for one of the many organizations who champion the black community, or even donate some of the money you make to the cause. Please find a way to have your voice heard that doesn’t disrespect our beautiful flag and all of the sacrifices our troops have made for it.
If the NFL can tell players what kinds of cleats they can and can’t wear or what stickers can or can’t be on a team’s helmets without being fined (the NFL wasn’t going to allow some players to wear special cleats in remembrance of 9/11 this past Sunday as well as not allowing the Cowboys to have a sticker on their helmets supporting cops after the Dallas shooting), they certainly can tell them when to stand. Kapernick is portraying his team and the league in an extraordinarily negative light and I hope the NFL bucks up and tells him and other players like him to stop with the disrespect while in uniform and representing their organization.