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A student’s perspective on NFL players kneeling

Zach Gristick, Special to the Quad

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Undoubtedly, since the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the United States national anthem in the preseason game versus the Green Bay Packers, a back and forth argument has unfurled in the days and months since and has evolved to a conversation discussed outside the world of football and sports. It has now become a topic of national debate.

Though much of the discussion boils down to whether or not taking a knee during the national anthem is disrespectful to our country or not, the real discussion should be focused on the issues at hand.

Kap’s actions have been referred to as many things. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a former NBA player said, “Look at all of what he has to lose by taking this position; his wealth, his endorsements, possible threats, the attacks against his family. He has a lot to lose. As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s more selfless than selfish.” It’s one thing to do something for yourself, but what Colin did on Sept. 1, five days after his first incident, after a win over the San Diego Chargers, was a true show of his character. Kaepernick announced that he would donate $1 million to charity, as he has proven his sincerity on multiple occasions.

The situation promptly received backlash, as expected. In particular, NFL executives have become rather outspoken in discussion with Kaepernick’s actions. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman interviewed some executives and they responded to his actions saying, “I don’t want him anywhere near my team. He’s a traitor.” Freeman said seven NFL executives each estimates “90 to 95 percent of NFL front offices felt the same way they did (about Kaepernick).”

It seemed to be that a majority of NFL fans picked their sides. Doctored 49ers jerseys proclaiming whose side they are all on really put Kaepernick’s face out there. While Kap had to expect that, the actions he bestowed upon the nation wasn’t necessarily taken the right way. Although Colin did receive support, including teammates, the wrong message was swept up in the social media hurricane.

In an effort to support his former teammate at the University of Nevada, linebacker for the Denver Broncos Brandon Marshall on Sept. 9, 13 days after Kaepernick’s preseason incident, knelt for the national anthem. He was showing solidarity with Kaepernick’s efforts. In return, his stance gained followers, with Denver teammate Eric Reid, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane and United States Women’s National Soccer Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe all kneeling before games.

It slowly flipped the table and more people were following the quarterback. The debate totally went haywire and became a national concern very rapidly. Time magazine acknowledged their support by putting Kaepernick on the cover of its Oct. 3 issue. Kaepernick’s protest of African Americans oppression finally got the attention it needed.

March 1, 2017 marked the end of the Kaepernick and 49ers’ relationship. There’s irony to that because not only did 95 percent of the owners of the NFL teams disliked Kap, the 49ers owner were one of his biggest supporters. Little did Kaepernick know, this would be his last job in the NFL to date.

Whether you agreed or not with Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the National Anthem, it is important to see that his stance was more influential than many people had initially perceived it to be. He proved to be an “icon” once again as Time magazine puts him in the “Top 100 Most Influential” list and Kaepernick’s influence expands beyond the football realm.

Fast forward to today and although some progress has been made, fairly little progress towards racial equality has been made. Remarks from President Trump are hindering the movement, as he is very against Kap’s actions. Saying the NFL should “suspend” Colin for kneeling.

It’s all about faith and determination. If you want to help/express the equality movement you’re in luck. Go to my blog and let me know your thoughts. Last but not least, if you can spare some change in this effort you can visit Kaepernick’s gofundme page. It is important in today’s time that citizens don’t just watch; we try to make a difference in the world, even if it’s just beginning a conversation.

Zach Gristick is a third-year student majoring in exercise science. He can be reached at [email protected]

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
A student’s perspective on NFL players kneeling