Two staff members take a stand/seat
We've invited two of our staff writers to discuss what they think of Colin Kaepernick's decision to sit during the national anthem at recent 49ers games, and the impact it's had on football and the media at large.
by Faustino Galante
Staff Pine Rider
As free as he may be, Colin Kaepernick is not brave. I know what you're thinking, “If you think you're so tough then why don’t you go do what he did?” Two reasons: first, I’ve sat on metal benches way too many times while riding pine in high school soccer, and second, even though I may disagree with many decisions made in Washington, I respect the country I live in.
On August 26th 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to stay seated for the Packers vs. 49ers preseason games’ National Anthem. When asked about the stunt in a post-game interview, Kaepernick explained, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He went on to specifically condemn police brutality against African Americans and demonstrated his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since Kaepernick’s decision to take a stand (or should I say a seat) for African American rights, a fierce debate has spread over whether his stunt was justified. Various athletes such as the Denver Broncos’ linebacker Brandon Marshall and U.S womens' soccer star Meghan Rapinoe have come out to support Kaepernick by also taking a seat. Others instead have voiced opposition to the quarterback’s actions. John Totorella, head coach for team USA in the World Cup of Hockey, explained that he would bench any Kaepernick copycats. Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back, also questioned Kaepernick’s motives (disclaimer: I understand Ray Lewis is not in the best position to question another NFL players motives).
It is truly bizarre how such a mediocre quarterback’s decision to sit during the National Anthem created such a media frenzy. Nonetheless, because of the large scale nature of this debate, it is important to take a side. Despite the fact that Kaepernick holds valid opinions about way African Americans are treated in the U.S, his decision to stay seated during the national anthem was completely uncalled for. Kaepernick’s decision was unfair for three main reasons: firstly, because his intentions were rooted in causing controversy and not change, and secondly because of the unifying nature of the National Anthem.
Causing controversy is not an act of bravery and does not necessarily bring change. Look at Donald Trump for example. He is using controversial publicity stunts to garner attention, piss off the far left, and rally the far right. Similarly, Colin Kaepernick is using a careless publicity stunt to grab the attention of America, piss off the far right, and rally irrational Civil Rights enthusiasts who do not understand what the National Anthem stands for. If Kaepernick truly wanted to make change he would do more than just sit down. Although Kaepernick did donate money to charity shortly following the incident, it must be noted that his main reason for doing so was to clean up his shattered public image resulting from his stunt. There were alternative ways Kaepernick could have voiced his opinion. For starters, in an age when the news is always on television and more than 320 million people have Twitter, Kap could have taken advantage of those outlets to voice his opinion. Kaepernick could have also used this year’s Presidential Election to transmit his opinions through politics. Sitting down is not a way to get things done, especially when you are doing so to disrespect one of America’s important traditions.
As a huge Buffalo Bills fan, I can’t help but get teary eyed whenever I watch Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem before Super Bowl XXV (the “wide right super bowl”). Thurman Thomas cried, Andre Reed bowed his head, and Jim Kelly was absolutely speechless. The beautiful anthem was even more unifying because of the fact it was given just days after the U.S entered the Gulf War. What happened to this nationalism? We went from Hall of Famers crying to mediocre quarterbacks sitting. One might argue that times have changed and that Kaepernick’s stunt was necessary to fight for Civil Rights. Well, for those of you who argue this, learn your Civil Rights history. The racial climate in the early 1990’s was a lot worse than today. Just a month following Whitney Houston’s anthem, the Rodney King riots erupted. Times were tough, but guess what? Everyone on both the Giants and the Bills stood up with their hands on their hearts during that anthem. They respected this country and understood what the National Anthem stood for.
Because Colin Kaepernick’s intentions were rooted in controversy rather than change, and looked to undermine a key unifying tradition in American sports, it was at best impolite for him to sit during the National Anthem. Colin needs to open his eyes and recognize what a great nation we live in and what the National Anthem truly stands for.
Right to protest?
by Warra Chan
I have never been a football fan. I can’t tell you what a linebacker does or how many timeouts each team gets per half. However, as of August 26th, I can tell you that I have a favorite team and even a favorite player: Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.
As you may know, Colin Kaepernick became an overnight icon for the Black Lives Matter movement after refusing to stand for the National Anthem. His actions though, have cause a furious debate amongst traditional and social media outlets and even amongst people in the world of sports. However, this outrage is bullshit and the fact that people are even mad about this reveals deeper issues within American society.
First of all, Kaepernick has been accused of being “disrespectful”. This is ludicrous and hypocritical. Somehow, a twelve-year-old Black boy can be shot for playing with a toy gun and no one gets arrested for it, yet refusing to stand up during a song is disrespectful? Also, Kaepernick is part-Black. Are you seriously going to tell me that a song, whose third verse is, I shit you not, “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution! No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” Say what you want about “People were racist back then! That was the language at the time! Things are different today!,” the fact of the matter is, this country has never respected people of color. Racism hasn’t ended. For fuck sake, there have been so many blatantly racist incidents in the news just this year and we’re only nine months in! Also, when people protested in Ferguson, the criticism was that the protestors weren’t being “civil” and they should follow Martin Luther King’s “civil disobedience” model, if they want to be “respected.” So, if anything, Kaepernick is abiding to that shitty White criticism.
Second of all, the fact that people are getting upset over Kaepernick exercising his rights, a.k.a. what the flag fucking stands for, reveals a deeper issue. Let’s face it, America, specifically the privileged White America, has a blind patriotism which will eventually lead to our own demise. Look, it’s great to love the country which has given you so much, but if simply sitting down during our National Anthem somehow disrespects our entire country, one, how weak do you think America is, and two, does this mean we should never criticize anything even tangibly related to our country? Well, fuck that noise. Our flag may stand for “Freedom” and “Justice,” but that only applies to Anglo- Saxon, wealthy, rich, Protestant, cisgender, heterosexual males. Ask the Black families stuck in a cycle of poverty due to police brutality and redlining policies if they have freedom and justice. Hell, ask the Native Americans whose graveyards are being turned into an oil pipeline about justice. My point is, American has problems. A lot of the red on that flag is blood of people of color.
So, in conclusion, America is racist and we need to actually take action. Until then, let Kaepernick bring attention to the cause in any way he damn well pleases. After all, that is his right as an American.