The 49ers have garnered an unusual amount of attention this season — but it’s not because of their dismal record.
During the team’s preseason same against Houston, quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem — a move that prompted many other athletes to protest racial discrimination, including some at BCHS.
Before Kaepernick exercised his right to free speech, most people never gave much thought to this tradition. After all, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key to celebrate the victory in Fort McHenry, Md., against Britain.
The song was re-named and has been played at every major sporting event since Woodrow Wilson’s executive order in 1916.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said to reporters after the game.
The fact that Kaepernick has the right to free speech is without question; what is in question is how much sway professional athletes have in influencing positive change in society.
No doubt there is room for athletes to promote social issues. Take Muhammad Ali, for example. During his professional career as a three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer, Ali stood up for African-American rights during the heated civil rights movement during his prime. Or Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in professional sports in America.
The difference between those two politically involved athletes and Colin Kaepernick is this: they pushed for equality through their professionalism, integrity and everyday actions.
Kaepernick falls short in all of these categories. Don’t believe so? Let me enlighten you.
Kaepernick has sat on the bench for the 49ers for the majority of this season, doing absolutely nothing, while he collects his $16 million a year salary and Jaguar endorsements. This is the same guy who had a relationship with the girlfriend of then-fellow teammate Aldon Smith.
In 2014, Colin Kaepernick did the very thing he is suddenly against. He was fined for using the n-word on the field during a game against the Chicago Bears.
If anything, he’s caused injustice to a fellow African American.
If Kaepernick really wants to make a change, why doesn’t he donate some of his $61 million contract money to entities that will result in changes for African Americans?
I have some ideas for Kaepernick: volunteer at inner-city schools where dropout rates for African Americans are often near 30 percent. Become a big brother or mentor for at-risk African American youth. Visit young, incarcerated black males and speak to them about how the greatest killer of African American males isn’t the police, it’s themselves.
In 2014, 90 percent of African American deaths were from the gunfire of other black people.
There is a great quote I once heard: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”