From Kindergarten to 12th, somewhere between Home Room and first period Earth Science, the PA would blare and the principal would lead the student body in the daily rendition of The Pledge of Allegiance. Like brushing your teeth or riding the bus, taking off your hat and placing your right hand over your heart while reciting ‘Americas lyrics’ was part of the routine. Without a second thought, 8:05 am marked a time of solidarity throughout schools across the country, where we swore our oath to the Stars and Stripes. Starting varsity QBs and Science Fair participants alike rose to attention out of habit, embedding this form of patriotism into their very DNA.
Fast forward out of the formative years and move into the post-grad epoch, where maybe the starting Letterman studs have signed their rookie year contracts and the Science Fare nerds have patented their first technology. Sitting on their new-found fortunes, their job starts eerily similarly as it did when their mothers were still brown-bagging their lunch, with another rendition of an American ballad. For the weekend warrior gone Pro-Bowl D-Lineman, the Pledge has been replaced by the National Anthem. While the lyrics are different the message remains the same…the song plays and the audience rises and partakes in the civilian choir. Now, a man exposed to the chaos that is “the real world,” breaks the routine and remains in his seat. When questioned about his decision, he proclaims that this wasn’t anarchy disguised in laziness, rather it was protest eluding to the new-found hashtag that #BlackLivesMatter.
Enter Colin Kaepernick….
Four preseason games are allotted to all NFL teams, where the starters show face and take a few reps before making way for the 3rd string rooks, has-beens, and hopefuls. Hardly offering anything of substance for eager Fantasy managers, the preseason is essentially just an aesthetic stretch; it builds the hype. Sure, plays go Top 10 and teams show some early dominance, but at the end of the four-week mini season, fanatics are ready for the main course. Every team sits back and hopes for a drama-free outing, void of injuries and tabloid-worthy nightlife affairs. Most teams have flown under the radar, but boy oh boy, Colin Kaepernick has attracted the lime light like a hot substitute at an all boys boarding school.
4 games in and 4 games out, Kap has remained seated for the National Anthem, the song that signifies kick-off is moments away. While there is no written law or contract that mandates players to stand and address the flag, it is an assumed agreement…not to the team, but to the country. Dating back to elementary school, rising for the Flag has become instinctual, which is precisely why the decibel level of Colins protest is deafening. If you haven’t turned on ESPN lately or CNN for that matter, the country is enraged by Colins “anti-American” means at protesting the issues plaguing black Americans across the country.
Here’s the Spark Notes version: Kap hasn’t stood for the National Anthem, which has surrounded his playtime in boo’s and profanity. He is blind to the negative outcry he has garnered, as he claims his actions are “bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” He goes on to say that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Tell us how you really feel, bro. While the 49ers SECOND STRING Quarterback isn’t the first A-Lister to take a stance on the Black Lives Matter front, he is the first to do it in such a LOUD way. To Colin, this is his means to an end. He has gone through the ringer as of late, as he continues to show his dissatisfaction in law enforcement and Washingtons roll in the violence and murder against black people that has seemingly become a daily happening within the U.S.
It’s evident that 99.9999% of the country scowls at Kaps approach, calling him anti-American, anti-Military, and a total and complete asshole for that matter. When the 9ers played the Chargers at their military night, he took a knee as he was under the impression that this would show that he means no disrespect in those regards. He has also offered full disclosure to the media, explaining his actions and telling mainstream broadcasters that this protest would continue into the regular season. In the sea of millions of NFL fans and across the airwaves from Cali to New York, Kap sits out of the National Anthem to incite change in our blatantly flawed American system. While every bodies a critic and the masses can take shots at Kaps knees to force him to stand in solidarity, he continues to sit…so here is one thing you CAN say about Colin Kaepernick.
About a week ago, MTV aired their annual Video Music Awards, where todays hottest artists flocked to MSG to accept their accolades in the feets of Hip Hop, R&B, and mainstream genres alike. To no ones surprise, Mr. Kanye West was awarded some premier stage-time, 6:57 to be exact. The crowd ooed and ahhhed as Yeezus ‘blessed’ the millennial pews with his infamously candid, yet seditious rhetoric. Amongst the plugs for music to come and laud for his not-so-secret love for Jay-Zs wife, Kanye poked at some of the civil unrest and crimes against humanity. Admit it or not, Kanye is today’s lionized personality and is a omnipresent spire for pop culture and world news alike. Now, standing before an crowd of 200,000 in addition to an at home audience that compiles to more than all 4 of the 49ers preseason viewership combined, Kanye delves into the issues about as far as he can throw them.
Here’s a man who is always in the headlines…a man who would laugh at being placed on Page 2 and who would be offended if he weren’t in everyones Top 1 list of favorite rappers. A man who thirsts for the attention and who likens himself to the Jobs and Picasso’s of the human race and to their societal impact. Here’s West, standing in his bunny slippers with his hands down his pants (I’m saying he is perfectly comfortable) at center stage. A black man from Chicago, one of the epicenters of the injustice, who goes platinum off lines eluding to his distaste for the treatment of his people…squandering yet another opportunity to evoke social change. He unearths the death tolls of the recent crimes and killings, sprinkling statistics throughout his speech as if they were as plentiful as grains of salt, yet also as trivial. When given a platform, you don’t necessarily have to sing the song of your heart, but if you’re going to take a crack at it, you might as well go all out.
So if there’s one thing you CAN’T say about Colin Kaepernick, it’s this. Unlike others, he uses the platform he has. He understands his platform and is serious about using it. Sure, his means to an end may seem extremely out of touch, but it’s the path he has chosen. Protesting for #BlackLivesMatter by boycotting the National Anthem makes about as much sense to me as ceasing to shop at Walgreens because it rained on your 15th birthday party. To me, his means may be more damaging than they are helpful, acting as both a start-point for locker room issues and fuel for the heat that is this societal issue. That being said however, Kap > Kanye. Sure this may be a pick your poison, zero-sum scenario like Hillary or Trump, in a world where choice is ironically required, I give Kap a pat on the back…not for his method of transferring his message, but for the utilization of the platform he is blessed with.