If your attention to sports is anything like mine, you may not be aware of the latest controversy in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand during the traditional pregame playing of the national anthem. As would be expected, a public outcry ensued.
Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated was influenced by his protesting of the oppression of minorities in the United States. As I am sure any and all readers are aware of, this is quite a hot topic within our country right now. When it comes down to the action itself, it was entirely legal and within Kaepernick’s rights. Conversely, some are seeing it as disrespect aimed at a great country. Am I writing this to tell you which it was? No. What I’m here to do is muse on the idea that maybe this is being blown out of proportion.
Here’s the deal, in the United States, we have the rights of freedom of speech and expression. Especially in matters of protest, these rights are essential to the freedom and liberty that the United States prides itself on. And whether or not you see this as an act of disrespect, the fact that you can express your opinion openly and freely is based on the same right that Kaepernick has to express his opinions openly and freely.
So let me ask you this when you went back to your everyday life after the incident, was anything different? Did you look out your window and see the people trampling the flag while praising the Communist Manifesto? Did you see thousands of racist people see the error of their ways and start to campaign for equality? Did you turn on your television to your favorite politically driven news channel and see that our congress suddenly decided to begin doing their jobs? Did you see policymakers begin working together to further the country instead of working to make their paychecks bigger? No. You saw none of these things. And you won’t see these things. Because whether you like it or not, in the grand scheme of things, an athlete refusing to stand for the national anthem means absolutely nothing.
And was it disrespectful? You decide. What I saw was a man refusing to participate in something he did not agree with. When was the last time you stood for the national anthem, wiped a tear from your eye, felt your heart beating in your chest, and pondered what a privilege it was to live in this great country? If my attendance at any sporting event has taught me anything, it is the fact that the national anthem is simply a two(ish) minute long break from whatever conversation you were having before the music started. This is not to say that recognizing our liberties and privileges isn’t essential because I do believe we need to understand how lucky we are to live in the United States. But rather calling to mind the absurdity that is this controversy.
So for those of you who think it was disrespectful, that is certainly a valid point. For those of you who think it was warranted, also a valid point. I frankly, could not care less. Because once again, people in our country are more upset about whether or not a man stood during a song than the crippling debt our country is facing. People are more worked up about Kaepernick than they are about the disappearance of the middle class. People are arguing with more passion about a football player’s action than they are about the fact that racism is still a huge problem in this country. People are dedicating more time to this squabble than they are the nightmarish presidential race we are currently watching unfold. The things that are found important in our country are becoming increasingly mind numbing and inconsequential, and I for one, am disappointed, to say the least.