NFL Takes: This Colin Kaepernick Story Shouldn't Be News
If you are mad at Colin Kaepernick for not standing during the National Anthem, stop.
This is not news.
There are SO many other things to get on him for. One easy angle: he's now playing in an offense designed for his style of play, and he still might lose his job to Blaine Gabbert.
A few years ago, I was the commissioner of a reverse fantasy football league that rewarded awful play; Blaine Gabbert was far and away the league's MVP.
Back to the point, though.
Kaepernick not standing for the National Anthem isn't news. It is, however, a chance for every bullhorn-wielding opportunist to take meaningless potshots at a figure of interest while coming across as patriotic.
It was also an opportunity for one outraged psycho to create my new favorite combination of words: "What selfish is you, buddy?!"
This would be a great opening to dive into what exactly patriotism means. That sounds difficult, though, so here's someone better qualified pontificating about what it could mean.
I will offer one thought: one could argue that in a nation with a proud history of peaceful and meaningful protest, drawing attention to an ongoing societal problem is more patriotic than blindly attaching your full support to a country whose actions shouldn't always be endorsed.
Those who say they take no issue with his message but disagree as to how he's communicating it are just the worst. Let's break down that argument using play-by-play technology:
1.) He can say the increased rate at which black Americans encounter police brutality in this country is a problem that must be addressed, but
2.) he cannot make the aforementioned statement by refusing to engage in a ceremony celebrating the flag that represents said country.
That distinction doesn't make a lot of sense. To become outraged by this, you would have to feel like Kaepernick was personally disrespecting the things you associate with the anthem and the ceremony surrounding it. That doesn't seem healthy, does it?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you get outspokenly outraged by the recent slight to the ole Stars 'n Stripes:
- What does it mean to stand for the National Anthem?
- Are you supporting the military?
- Are you supporting the government?
- Are you supporting the ideas on which this country was founded?
- Are you pledging your allegiance to the flag or the country?
- Are you honoring fallen soldiers?
- Are you blindly following tradition without having really thought about it beyond it seeming nice? I mean, sometimes it can be performed really well, but sometimes Roesanne sings it. You know, just stand and put your hand on your nipple because if you don't, you're kind of being a dick, you know?
I don't think any one of these answers is 100% correct. It means different things to different people. I could probably just end the article with that statement, but for whatever reason, more words will appear below.
I feel like the football-viewing public just doesn't want to be reminded that their precious America isn't perfect while football is ramping up. Is it the anthem that's so precious? Or is it the few hours each week during which we can drown out the rest of the world and become deranged borderline psychopaths that cheer for grown men to come close to murdering other grown men?
He is being so disrespectful though...right?
It seems to me that a large swath of the offended people in this country find this gesture to be disrespectful to the military. The military (as goes every argument of this type) fought to protect the flag (meaningless), the people (important), and the values (slippery) of this nation. To disrespect this ceremony is to disrespect their sacrifice.
Their sacrifice, apparently, is best honored by singing a song at a patterned piece of cloth.
But, why is that the only thing this ceremony can stand for? Do you think Kaepernick thought, "Oh yeah, the soldiers that died overseas. Fuck them. I disrespect them. Freedom? I am not thankful for that. No thank you."?
Do you really think that's what he's doing? Does anyone really think that?
Who thinks that disagreeing with an extensive history of oppression by not standing for the National Anthem, whose tune was first used as a drinking song, is really worth this amount of outrage?
This might be incinerating a dead horse with napalm, but why do you get to tell Kaepernick what his actions mean?
What if (and I know this is a huge stretch) the flag represents our country as a whole? Why can't our flag include a checkered past involving playing world-sized chess against the USSR? Why doesn't it represent a past including institutional racism and slavery?
To some, it represents the policies and history of a nation that hasn't ever represented hope and freedom to an entire subset of our population, but rather segregation and lynch mobs. It might also represent a prison population, education rates, and income gap that reflect the lingering effects of that history.
That's not what the flag means to you?
That's okay; I'll take this opportunity to not tell you what it should mean to you.