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Colin Kaepernick, the San Fransisco 49ers starting quarterback, has immersed himself in an NFL controversy for refusing to stand and acknowledge the national anthem in their preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium on Friday night. Kaepernick claims his failure to acknowledge the national anthem is to protest what he believes is unfair treatment towards African Americans in the United States. He has received media attention for his decision and has been accused of disrespecting his home country.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," said Kaepernick to the NFL. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
In the 2011 NFL Draft, Kaepernick was selected 36th overall in the second round by the 49ers. His career took off quickly, as he became well known for his ability to run the ball as a quarterback. In the 2012 season, Kaepernick led his team to Super Bowl XLVII where they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31. The next year, they went on to the NFC Championship and lost to the Seattle Seahawks
Since the 2013 season, Kaepernick's career has become relatively quiet. His contract was extended six years, worth up to $126 million dollars, but he continues to fail to deliver on the field. From 2014 to now, the 49ers have struggled greatly and the novelty of Kaepernick has completely worn off.
The sudden outburst of media attention is a change of events for Kaepernick, who's career has been uneventful since his playoff runs earlier in his career or the $10,000 fine for using inappropriate language on the field. Yet again, the attention does not seem to be positive, although he is advocating for a good cause.
Kaepernick is joining many other athletes as an advocate for civil rights, but the main difference is his approach. NBA and WNBA players use a positive approach to unite the country, and they believe the battle must be fought while together as one. Jesse Owens, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Olympic track stars in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, advocated for civil rights by standing with a black glove on their fist and raising it in the air. Kaepernick, on the other hand, encourages a separation and boycotting of the flag and country, an ineffective method of pursuing unity and fairness.
Niners coach Chip Kelly said it is "his right as a citizen" and "it's not my right to tell him not to do something."
Kaepernick has good intentions but the wrong way of showing it. Rather than being a role model or using his platform to influence people, he is simply spreading animosity around the league and country. While I respect his opportunity to exercise his freedom of speech, his method of sitting during the national anthem will not have a positive impact, and he is simply disrespecting a country and a league, which put him on the map in the first place.