Colin Kaepernick’s stand: the mixing of athletics and politics

Quarterbacks of the National Football League have been in the news lately in a big way. In a development that’s mostly newsworthy within the sport itself, the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings each lost their starting quarterbacks this week when Tony Romo and Teddy Bridgewater suffered severe injuries.

Another story that’s made headlines throughout the entire athletic world is the announcement that Tim Tebow will attempt a comeback — in baseball.

The former quarterback and ambassador for Christianity whose victory celebration was the origin of a new verb in the English language held a workout on Tuesday for Major League Baseball scouts.

Scouting reports were very mixed, but Tebow did get at least one professional offer from an independent league team. A far cry from the big leagues, but an opportunity nonetheless.

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Personally, I think this is a prime chance for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to step up to the plate and see if Angels in the Outfield can actually be a real thing. If anyone can do it, Tebow can.

But let’s move on to the last newsworthy quarterback, whose actions resonated not only in the sports community, but throughout the country.

Colin Kaepernick, who was once laughably hailed by one sports analyst as the potential “best quarterback ever,” and whose poor play in recent years has soured him in the eyes of 49ers fans, attempted to make a political statement last week, and the way he did it has made him the topic of conversation in workplaces across America.

Wanting to draw attention to the denial of civil rights and violence against minorities, Kaepernick declined to stand for the national anthem last Friday before a preseason game.

The Star Spangled Banner has become so entrenched in sporting events in America that no one even thinks about it anymore. It’s performed minutes before each game, you stand, and then the game begins. It’s the least bit controversial.

By not standing, Kaepernick has certainly drawn the attention he desired. But it’s come with significant backlash.

For the most part, I’ve heard two schools of thought from critics on Kaepernick’s behavior — the first being complete and unequivocal condemnation for his actions.

The second being a more understanding viewpoint of his motivation, but disapproval of the method. Which is pretty much where I stand.

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There’s no doubt that Kaepernick has every right to do what he did. This country was built on protest. It’s a constitutional right available to all of us.

But many view it as an ultimate act of disrespect to not only the freedoms that this country affords — or the opportunities (which led to Kaepernick making millions of dollars) — but also to those who have served, sacrificed and even died defending those freedoms.

Interestingly, one hashtag that came about in response was #VeteransForKaepernick. One serviceman wrote: “I serve to protect your freedoms. Not a song.”

Athletes, of course, have had their own opinions. Some were dumb. But one football player who had every right to voice their thoughts is Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan before playing football.

Understandably, Villanueava disapproved of what Kaepernick did, but in a graceful and eloquent manner.

“I think he’s obviously upset and I think we all agree, the majority of America would agree, there’s an issue with minorities in our country, the way some groups in our population are being treated,” Villanueva said. “I just think not standing up for America is a little bit unfair on his part because he’s not taking into consideration the minorities that are fighting for the flag, like myself, the thousands of people who lay their lives so he can express himself.”

I don’t think you can say it much better than that.

Like Tebowing, Kaepernicking once was in its own verb — flexing and kissing your bicep in celebration.

Here on out, I think that term will take on a whole new meaning.

Kaepernick is poised to lose the starting quarterback job this year, and therefore will have plenty of time to sit down this season.

After becoming a national lightning rod the last few days, my guess is he’ll pick a well-timed few minutes to stand from here on out.

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