Colin Kaepernick has been making headlines for weeks, due to his protest of pre-game national anthem performances. Kaepernick, a professional football player of mixed race, has been protesting in support of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, which condemns police brutality against black individuals. In a recent interview, he stated "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...to me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way." While this has caused backlash from many NFL fans, others have found inspiration in Kaepernick's desire for change. Even former Yankees star Derek Jeter has indirectly shown support for committing actions that "impact people's lives in a positive way," given a public platform. I personally respect Kaepernick's desire for change, and I agree with his statement; this is much bigger than football. Let's ignore, just for a moment, that this form of protest isn't exactly the most respectful method, and take a look at some more productive means for change. Maybe Mr. Kaepernick will change his mind after a little bit of statistical reasoning.
The 'Black Lives Matter" movement has sprung up due to a wake of increasingly frequent reports of brutality and fatal police shootings in the media. Police officers are meant to bring peace and justice to society, and the possibility of several instances wherein officers acted out of place taints the meaning of the badge, which is especially unfortunate for those who risk their lives with honesty and integrity. While I will not discount the importance of ensuring that police officers are acting within their allowed powers, I must bring attention to the fact that black individuals are not the only group to suffer from these actions. Police become involved when there is potential for criminal activity. Furthermore, there would only be the possibility of unjust police action in the presence of activity that could be deemed suspicious or questionable. In the world we live in today, suspicion is an unfortunate, but necessary, side-effect to vigilance. Therefore, we must look to the causes of crime.
Aristotle once said "poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." With this being said, there are numerous studies that show low socioeconomic status, rather than race, is the largest indicator of violence, according to Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Of course, this means the problem comes back to the all-powerful entity that takes the form of dollars and cents: money. The United States Census Bureau reports that 45.3 million people were at or below the poverty line in 2013, and the average poverty threshold for a family of five, composed of one adult and four children, was $27,853 in 2015. Compare this to the median income of $55,775, which is about double the average poverty threshold. There is one way that we could make a significant impact in increasing this, and Mr. Kaepernick isn't going to like it.
We all know that professional athletes really bring home the bacon; Colin Kaepernick himself is on a contract that makes over $21 million each year. The total NFL salary money is $3.6 billion dollars and is dispersed among 1,696 players. If each player were to be paid the United States median income, there would be over $3.5 billion left over. This surplus money could bring an estimated 128,004 families of five from the poverty level to about the mean income, if it were used to pay the unfortunate who wish to change their situation through hard work. To put this in perspective, assuming all of the 45.3 million people are broken up into the aforementioned family compositions, poverty would decrease by 1.4%. This may not sound like much, but if inflation were to proportionally affect the line of poverty and professional football players' salaries, poverty could be all but eliminated in the United States in less than 72 years.
So, Mr. Kaepernick, do you think you could downsize from your $2.7 million mansion, since you believe it would "be selfish on [your] part to look the other way?" Your words, not mine.
There are ways to fix our problems without disrespect, and although I respect professional athletes for their hard work, dedication, and teamwork, I find it extremely disrespectful to pick-and-choose to make a statement. I would also like to take a moment to show respect for the men and women who fight for our country, especially honest police officers who have fallen victim to prejudice over the poor decisions of the few, or possibly a lack of coverage. It is a seemingly thankless job that many take for granted. May God Bless you and keep you safe, as you risk your lives to keep me, and Mr. Kaepernick, safe.