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One Man’s Protest
At the start of the new year, the Nation Football League has been under the microscope
of the public and has continuously seen a dramatic decline of, “9.7%” of their audience from
2016 to 2017 (Tran). Issues accumulating from player safety down to policy are all
understandable, but none have cast more of a dark shadow on the league than Colin
Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. On August 26, 2016, millions of fans and viewers
from across the nation gathered for what seemed to be yet another traditional football game,
but little did they know that what they were about to witness would spark a heated controversy
that would put the NFL on the spotlight in just about every living room in the United States. In
choosing to protest the national anthem on the nation’s biggest platform, Kaepernick hoped to
bring awareness to the oppression people of color still face today in the United States stating, “I
am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and
people of color” (Wyche). Not two seasons later, Kaepernick will find himself out of a job for
making the decision to use his platform to bring awareness to the oppression of people of
color. There are many people across the nation and even the globe who think professional
athletes should simply shut up and play, however, I believe that the National Football League
and any other major sports program, should not have the ability to restrict athletes from using
their social status and platforms for advocating their thoughts and beliefs.
Three years after Kaepernick decided to protest the National Anthem, the repercussions
still affect our society today in 2019. Many popular artists and performers were extremely
skeptical about performing for one of the most viewed performances of the year, the
Superbowl Halftime Show. Artists like Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Cardi B all refused the invitation in
support of Collin Kaepernick and his mysterious conspiracy to keep him from playing in the
Nation Football League. After countless rejections, Maroon 5 and Travis Scott decided to
perform despite all of the distractions surrounding the event.
Although Kaepernick may be the catalyst in this social revolution, it was certainly not the
first. Conflicts arising on a massive public scale even dates back to the Beijing Olympics in 2008
when a Canadian team was forced to be silenced with their growing concerns about
questionable human rights ethics in China. How could athletes ever possibly feel empowered to
make a difference when their superiors feel that their emotionally objectified opinions, “should
just stay home,” (Kingston). As an Olympian, it is part of the deal that it is not made into a
political manifestation while you are representing your country and it is not turned into a
political statement. How could changes ever be made in society if we never empower our most
influential people? Imagine training and dedicating your entire life to your country and sport
and in the biggest moment of your life, you do not have the right to tell the world what
motivated you to be here today whether positive or negative. That’s exactly what took place in
the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 when, “…American sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith
raised black-gloved, clenched fists on the medal podium as a salute to black power,” (Kingston).
Both men knew well before that by protesting, there was a huge chance they could lose
everything, possibly their lives. At the podium, the two men both were accompanied by the
dreadful silence and partial booing of the crowd, but back at home, millions of African
Americans across the nation felt unity all because two athletes decided to make a statement.
In an incredibly tribulating political atmosphere our society has today, its only logical
that athletes will have opinions on political figures in power. A superstar athlete like Lebron
James and Stephen Curry, both who have millions of fans from all over the planet that follow
them religiously, are bound to have an opinion on politics and the laws that govern the society
they also contribute to. During a 17 minute interview the a broadcaster from ESPN, James
discusses that, “the No.1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t
understand the people,” and also added that many of his comments were “laughable and
scary,” (Sullivan). Almost immediately, the world’s most coveted athlete of all time was
responded by Laura Ingraham calling his comments, “barely intelligible, and ungrammatical,”
(Sullivan). The worst of her comments came from her statement stating, “ It’s always unwise to
seek political advice from someone who get paid 100 million dollars a year to bounce a ball,”
Work Cited Page
Brown, DeNeen L. “They Didn’t #TakeTheKnee: The Black Power Protest Salute That Shook the
Shook the World in 1968.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 Sept. 2017,
www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/09/24/they-didnt takeaknee-theblack-power-protest-salute-that-shook-the- world-in1968/?utmterm=.19e641a552c9.
Kang, Jay Caspian. “Should Athletes Stick to Sports?” The New York Times 14 Feb. 2017,
Kingston, Gary. “New Study Calls Average Water Use by Canadians ‘Alarming’,”
Sullivan, Emily. “Laura Ingraham Told LeBron James To Shut Up And Dribble; He Went To The
Hoop.” NPR, NPR, 19 Feb. 2018, www.npr.org/sections/thetwoway/2018/02/19/587097707/laura-ingraham-told-lebron-james-to-shutup-and-dribblehe-went-to-the-hoop.
Svrluga, Barry. “As Athletes Are Told to ‘Stick to Sports,’ Anquan Boldin Sticks to His
Convictions.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 Aug. 2017,
Tran, Kevin. “NFL Ratings Faced Steeper Declines in 2017.” Business Insider, Business insider, 5
Jan. 2018, www.businessinsider.com/nfl-ratings-faced-steeper-declines-in-2017-2018-1.
Wyche, Steve. “Colin Kaepernick Explains Why He Sat during National Anthem.” NFL.com
History, National Football League, 28 Aug. 2016.
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