Athletes’ protests ring hollow for this fan

Gavin Cordoza, Staff Writer

This weekend, the Dallas Cowboys and individuals from nearly every other NFL team refrained from participating in the National Anthem at their football games to peacefully protest racial discrimination and the Trump administration. Inspired by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, these athletes are making political statements that involve protesting police brutality against African Americans.

They have every right to peacefully protest. For some reason, though, these protests only became relevant to athletes recently, with Kaepernick’s first demonstration in 2016, despite the fact that police brutality has been a problem in the U.S. for decades.

One of the first high-profile incidents of police brutality occurred in 1992, when Rodney King, an innocent taxi driver, was recorded being brutally beaten by LAPD officers. So why was police brutality of African Americans not an issue to Kaepernick a few years ago, when he appeared in the SuperBowl and was at the peak of his career? Kaepernick is only now speaking out about this subject.

“Ultimately [speaking out is] to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” Kaepernick said in an interview with “Mercury News.” “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, [that] people aren’t being held accountable for, and that’s something that needs to change. This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all, and it’s not happening for all right now.”

These remarks have sparked controversy and prompted other NFL players to follow in Kaepernick’s footsteps. A few teams in the NFL had at least one kneel or sit down during the National Anthem during week one of the 2017 season. 49er’s safety Eric Reid knelt during the anthem with 10 players gathered around him. Other players who sat during the National Anthem include Raiders’ running back Marshawn Lynch, Eagle’ safety Malcolm Jenkins and Kansas City’s cornerback Marcus Peters.

Players have spoken their minds on these issues that they care about — but do they need to? Here is an example of what could and should be happening today: if a student gets a job and says something offensive or not work appropriate, he could be fired or have his contract terminated. There is a time to say opinions and a time not to. Police brutality has been going on since the Civil War. If this cause bothered him, Kaepernick should’ve made a stand when he was at the peak of his career.

Just because an athlete is skilled at a sport does not mean he or she has to publicly voice an opinion in an attempt to influence others. Kevin Durant apparently thought he could speak his thoughts about President Donald Trump. In an interview after the 2017 NBA finals, he was asked if he would go to the White House and meet Donald Trump.

“Nah, I won’t do that. I don’t respect who’s in office right now,” Durant said in the interview. “That’s just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they’ll all agree with me.”

“Somebody asked me about [going to the White House] a couple of months, like a hypothetical, if the championship were to happen would I do it, and I think I answered ‘I wouldn’t go.’ I still feel like that today,” Durant’s teammate Stephen Curry said.

Everyone has his or her own opinion, but an athlete’s or celebrity’s point of view doesn’t necessarily have more value than anyone else’s. Any other human being could say the same things as Colin Kaepernick or Kevin Durant, yet you hear no widespread criticism or support for that person. Their actions are all a matter of ego and attention; most athletes couldn’t care less about the causes they supposedly stand for — or in Kaepernick’s case, kneel for.

Athletes just feel that they need more cameras on them, and more of your eyes on the TV screen. The media today just spoils stars like Colin Kaepernick, and as soon as the press started to move away to the next rising star, he felt disrespected. If an athlete wants to support an opinion, there is nothing stopping them. Athletes just need correct motives and instead of just complaining about the issue, actually use their ability to make a change for the better. If someone like Colin Kaepernick wants justice for African Americans, he should stop kneeling for the National Anthem. Doing that brings no support whatsoever to the cause.

Take Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example. He didn’t kneel for the anthem or complain at all. He used his ability to make a change for the better, and he led the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. If Kaepernick wants to get his message out and have people’s support, he needs to get out there with the rest of the protesters and actually do something. An opinion won’t matter unless something is done to back it up.
Editor-in-Chief Helen Le contributed to this story.