Colin Kaepernick created a media frenzy when he took a knee during the National Anthem last year. In response to his actions, several football coaches and team owners have denounced this peaceful protest, and proclaimed that if any of their players follow in suit they will be benched. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t picked up by any teams for the 2017-18 NFL season.
Various sports athletes have spoken out in support of Kaepernick’s bravery, and some even followed in his footsteps by kneeling as well. However, coaches and owners still reserve the right to silence their players by threatening them with a removal from the game. This puts our players in a terrible position, unable to fight for their beliefs in a country that promotes freedom of speech at risk of losing their jobs.
Retired basketball player Kobe Bryant told the press that if he still played, he would kneel as well. What do you think would happen if Kobe was to kneel during the game? Would this longtime player, who is worshiped by a multitude of fans, be asked to take the bench? Would Lebron be ejected from the game if he too, took a knee? Would Steph Curry be asked to “sit this one out” if he joined in protest with the rest of his players?
The answer is, likely, no. Sports franchises in this country rake in billions of dollars annually, and they do so by highlighting their most prominent and popular players. They cannot thrive or function without these individuals. This is why we are calling on them to take a stand for what is right. We are asking them to put their fear and pride aside, and use their power and platform to speak out with the smaller players who have jeopardized their careers by standing, or kneeling, for what they believe.