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Kneeling during the National Anthem - the protest is evolving

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    It's very interesting how a protest demonstration by 1 NFL player in a 2016 preseason game has evolved so much over the last 3 NFL seasons, to the point of pissing off the US President to no end and getting people to burn Nike apparel. Colin Kaepernick has certainly started an enduring conversation, but it's not exactly remained the one he originally intended on.

    NFL kneeling in protest of the National Anthem is now a household concept, but it's come to mean different things to different people at different times. Here's my attempt at summarizing it all, giving my thoughts on everything and asking a few questions at the end.


    In 2016, this is when the protest was used in its purest form (IMO). Then 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem in a preseason game. This was to draw attention to social issues such as police brutality and racial inequality. He later decided to kneel instead of sit, and was joined by fellow teammate Eric Reed by the end of the preseason. His demonstration drew a far amount of news coverage, backlash against him, and had a few handfuls of random NFL and MLB players joining the cause in protest, sparking what I saw as a healthy debate about exactly what Kaepernick intended, even though the conversation was also about how effective simply kneeling actually was in the real world. That's a fair question, to this day.

    In 2017, things heated up, Thanks to Trump. Honestly this form of protest was dying out until Trump decided to blast Kaepernick and any other protesters during his stump speeches and twitter tirades as unpatriotic cry babies. So this woke up the masses, and turned the protests into much more than just a demonstration against social injustice for black people. Now it was that, plus a middle finger to Trump, and any other administrator or authority figure that said 'you can not do this'. Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season saw the most kneeling protests of any time during this whole ordeal, by far, including owners of teams.

    In 2018, the NFL tried to police kneeling, and so far has failed. Given the backlash from Trump, Trump supporters and the patriotic masses across the country, plus everyone worried how all this was negatively affecting TV ratings and therefore the bottom line of the whole she bang, the NFL decided to put an end to the kneeling protesting by punishing anyone that did so. But that was short lived. NFL players and even administrators and coaches refused to fully comply with the new rules, and they were soon disbanded by the NFL. No current punishment is no the books for kneeling or otherwise protesting during a game, unless a team institutes it. (Think state laws vs federal laws).

    So, the evolution of NFL protesting Kaepernick created is fascinating. It started off (again in my opinion) as a pure plow to insert a conversation about race and social injustice into a massively popular sporting event, one that is overwhelmingly played by the very race he wanted the spotlight on, and national conversation to be had about. And it ended up becoming yet another example of the massive division we have in this country, that is represented with a very loud minority of outrage on both sides of a heated fight, and a 50/50 split otherwise; red vs blue. Patriotic vs unpatriotic. 'Fall in line' men vs 'True rebels'. Trump supporters vs Kaepernick supporters. Yes or no on the Nike ad.

    It is interesting to watch. Though in all of this, has anything really been accomplished? Has the real conversation basically been lost? Or was this always meant to end up being a microcosm of what is really ailing this country, a 50/50 division on all things at it's very core?

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    I think the conversation has just expanded. But you're right, the focus has definitely shifted away from police brutality and racial inequality being at the center of this whole thing. It's still there, at least from what I've seen from YouTube videos and articles talking about it in relation to player protests, it's just being overshadowed by Trump and Nike at the moment.

    Though it probably won't go back to being the center of the conversation. And that's the point. So I guess I have to agree.. it has been lost.

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    Seems this fight is being carried out largely in editorials and blogs now. I have been reading a few pieces lately of this guy from 'The Root', Stephen A. Crockett. Jr. He seems pissed at the state of the protest now, mainly how many black players don't seem to care anymore and have given up on the protest, and also that no one is en masse boycotting the entire NFL.

    Fair warning, he cusses quite a bit and doesn't hold back any punches. I don't agree with him really on either article. But in fairness of hearing all sides, I thought it interesting to share two of his more recent articles to see if they resonant with anyone here:

    NFL Players Have Stopped Kneeling Because That's What Black America Wants

    A Week 2 Roundup of NFL Players Who Protested Police Brutality During The National Anthem

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    It is really interesting to see just how far and how much the original topic has changed. I don't think Kaepernick had any of this in mind whatsoever when he decided to kneel. I mean, seriously, who would have imagined the POTUS would end up going after the NFL, basically due to Kap himself. I totally thought this would all blow over within a year and the only connected topic to any of this would be whether he would ever play in the NFL again or not. I'm still very curious if that'll happen. Every now and then you'll see a headline about Kaepernick being signed to a team, then the article goes on to explain that team's coach said "it'll never happen". So just clickbait. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think Kap will ever QB again?

    What really irritates me about this entire topic though, the Nike commercial.... It just doesn't feel "real" at all. I can get through most of the commercial just fine, but the moment Kap is shown.... It turns really, really cringe to me. The whole thing just screams "I"M LOVING THE ATTENTION" from Kaepernick. There was also a lot of talk just after it's release about how he hasn't actually "sacrificed" or "risked" anything, or at least not in the same sense that every other person in the commercial has.

    It's pretty obvious that he lost his NFL career (at the moment) from this ordeal. I just don't think the had the intention of risking it all for his belief. I think that it snowballed out of control so fast that before he realized it, he was out. Seeing him in that ad, with those athletes, in that context is just blatant attention seeking and Nike capitalism to me.

    I guess it's a little hard to put into words, but hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say.