Tuesday, August 30, 2016

This (Non) Sporting Life: Oh Say Can You See

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, an All-American blog made up of a distilled organic mix of moms, apple pies and baseballs. I'm Dave-El and if you want me to see anything by the dawn's early light, there better be a double shot espresso involved. 

Today is another installment of This (Non) Sporting Life, a blog post about sports written by a guy who doesn't know much about sports. (That's ME!)  

Today, our topic is football. 

The weird thing about football is how little of it involves feet. There's the bit where someone kicks the ball to start off an...I don't know, an inning, I guess and there's the part where someone kicks the ball for extra points (Wheee! EXTRA points!) but most football activity involves hands, not feet. 

I mean, what gives? 

The current kerfluffle in the NFL does not involve either the ball or feet. It's about a guy refusing to stand on his feet before the game.   

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during Friday's night's playing of the national anthem, ostensibly as a sign of protest saying, "I'm not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color."

Believe it or not, standing for the National Anthem is not mandated by the NFL. "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. 

In a show of support for Kaepernick, the 49ers issued a statement: "The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

Athletes making political statements are not unusual. Recenty during the opening of ESPN's telecast of the ESPYs, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade made calls for social change.  

But those statements were made to encourage athletes to use their fame and their fortunes to help address specific problems in society. What Kaepernick is doing is different; his is an act of defiance against the country as a whole and the symbols of our anthem and our flag, symbols with significant emotional power. 

I would say to Colin Kaepernick that yes, our country is flawed. The United States was founded on an ideal that all men were created equal, an ideal that was admittedly not a reality when those words were put down on paper 250 years ago. Today, for all our advances towards equality for women, people of color, gays and more, it is still not a fully realized state for all Americans. But great progress has been made and I firmly believe that more progress will be made in the days and years to come until we as a nation can stand firmly on the promise made in 1776 that all men are created equal. 

The beauty of this nation is you have the right to speak ill of it with no reprisals from the government. That's pretty damn awesome, isn't it? But other people have the right to speak ill of you and your choice of protest. You have every right not to stand for the National Anthem but please realize that this is a sign of disrespect to all the nation. Not just the racists and other misbegotten idiots who would undermine what America is really about. No, it's also a disrespect to those men and women who dedicate their lives to making this country a free place to live and a better place to live for all people. 

But to those who have challenged Colin Kaepernick's actions and his rights to do what he has done, remember that the freedoms that men and women have given their lives to protect for this country give him right to voice his opinions just as they give you the right to voice yours. What Colin Kaepernick needs to remember that as Americans, we are in this together. What makes America great comes from us working together. Whatever is wrong with America can be fixed by us coming together. And more than just for Colin Kaepernick, that is an important lesson for all us to remember. 

Remember to be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow. 



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