Sit or Stand: Colin Kaepernick’s political decision

Erik Tischer


Kaepernick should have stood for anthem

By Erik Tischer

One of our most sacred traditions as a country is the national anthem. The national anthem gives citizens an opportunity to honor our country and all the men and women who risk their lives to give us the freedoms we have today. To not stand and honor this glorious tradition is to spit in the face of the American people.

At the start of this 2016 football season, Colin Kaepernick, an American quarterback who plays for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, sat while the national anthem played during his first few games. Kaepernick blatantly disrespected our national anthem and the American people in front of millions of fans while trying to take a stand against racial oppression.

Racial oppression and inequality in America is a problem which needs to be addressed, but disrespecting our nation’s anthem does not bring about change. The flag and the national anthem represent the United States’ ideals, not every one of its actions. Purposefully not standing for the anthem is the wrong way to go about spreading your message to the American people.

Instead of disrespecting the American flag to gain this immediate backlash of negative attention, Kaepernick could use his millions of dollars and his fame as an athlete to push for change. All types of athletes throughout history have used their status to highlight a larger problem; this can easily be done without disregarding the national anthem and everything it stands for. Kaepernick is ruining his chances of bringing about change because of his disrespectful actions.

Not only is the playing of the national anthem a pregame tradition, it also gives us the opportunity to respect our country. Before most major sporting events, the national anthem is played to remind us of the country we live in and the people who serve it. Athletes have always been able to respect our country and push for change using their platform as popular figures in today’s culture.

Recently, through their anti-violence speech at ESPN’s ESPY Awards honoring athletes, NBA players Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade have used their power as influential athletes to put their weight behind the “Black Lives Matter’’ movement and illuminate the violence which occurs all over our country. This kind of push for change is what we need from athletes to help move toward social progress.

When Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem, it was not only disrespectful but a complete waste of his station in our society as a popular athlete. Because of his actions, he has not only alienated himself to the American people but effectively destroyed his chances at future endorsements. No one wants to draft a player who is surrounded by controversy. He will lose his money and his status all because he would not stand for our national anthem.

There needs to be change in this country to fix the problems we have with racial oppression. We need people from all walks of life to stand up to respect equality of all races but also to stand up to respect America. When we have athletes who warp this message with disrespectful actions like Kaepernick’s, there is a large amount of unneeded anger which pulls people away from the actual message.


Kaepernick took a stand against oppression

By Chase Kleber

When Colin Kaepernick, second-string quarterback for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand during the national anthem, he wasn’t being a privileged celebrity. He wasn’t being ignorant. He wasn’t being stubborn, uneducated or pretentious. He was making a purposefully controversial decision in order to bring light to a problem he felt connected to, and I fully agree with his commitment and bravery to do that.

In his statement explaining why he didn’t stand up, Kaepernick expressed his deep concern with the treatment of minorities in this country, specifically the rampant police brutality. Minorities are underrepresented and stuck in a vicious cycle of oppression, and Kaepernick was standing for everyone who feels excluded in America.

Yes, minorities have “equal rights,” but achieving actual equality in America entails so much more than that. This country — and the flag Kaepernick refused to stand for — are supposed to represent true equality. America is supposed to be the land of the free, where everyone feels included and protected. However, no matter what the laws, statistics, and majority say, that is not the case. Kaepernick is sitting to force us to acknowledge the reality in America.

That being said, so little of this argument should be about the miniscule action of sitting during the national anthem. Kaepernick is not required to stand during the national anthem. No one ever is, and if you believe everyone must stand for the American flag, you are more “un-American” than you claim Kaepernick to be. Kaepernick sat down in order to bring attention to a bigger problem, and if you’re more focused on what a celebrity does during the national anthem, you’re a part of the problem.

Talk about police brutality. Talk about gay rights. Talk about immigration reform. But please don’t talk about whether Kaepernick’s back side is touching the metal bench during the national anthem next game.

Of course there was backlash, in the form of open letters, tweets, talk-show segments, and of course, the predictable jersey burning. For those who believe he was disrespectful, privileged, or selfish, I ask this: what would you rather see? Would you rather see him riot in the streets? Would you rather see him take on the police himself? Would you rather see him protest football all together?

From what I’ve seen in this country, there’s no way to successfully protest any problem because you will be judged no matter what you do. If you choose to act, they say you’re being too violent. If you choose to stay out of the limelight or express support from behind-the-scenes, they say you’re not being active enough and obviously don’t care. There’s no winning because protesting is inherently controversial, so why should Kaepernick care what you think? You’re talking about it aren’t you?

First, it was Kaepernick. Then it was Jeremy Lane, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. Now, it’s beyond football. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem at a professional soccer game in order to bring light to LGBTQ inequality. Even entertainer Chris Brown refused to stand during a charity basketball game. Fans and players alike have expressed their support for Kaepernick with their words and actions, but only time will tell whether Kaepernick’s initial decision will have any lasting effects.


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