Friday night, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became public enemy No. 1 after choosing to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem.
Kaepernick didn't stand during national anthem. He also didn't play QB at an NFL level...(via @jenniferleechan) pic.twitter.com/RUrH7Z8z4m — Will Reeve Jr (@WillReeveJr) August 27, 2016
It's no secret there's an unwritten, yet very tangible connection between patriotism and the United States' biggest sport. For many, the NFL conjures up images of touchdowns, screaming fans and American flags waving proudly in the wind.
For Kaepernick, though, the connection between America and its citizens is becoming weaker by the day.
Speaking on his decision to sit during the Anthem, the 28-year-old said,
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
Following his decision, there were gasps and groans from every corner of this great nation, and one 49ers fan responded by burning a Kaepernick jersey while the National Anthem blared in the background.
Fellow NFL players, both past and present, have ripped Kaepernick's choice. His former teammate, Vikings guard Alex Boone, reportedly said,
It's hard for me, because my brother was a Marine, and he lost a lot of friends over there. That flag obviously gives [Kaepernick] the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some [expletive] respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom.
We're out here playing a game, making millions of dollars. People are losing their life, and you don't have the common courtesy to do that. That just drove me nuts.
That's exactly it, though.
Why is one life more valuable than another? There are too many soldiers who have died overseas protecting our freedom, but there are also too many Americans, particularly ones of color, who have died in New York, Baltimore, Ferguson, Florida and elsewhere in the United States.
Kaepernick addressed his decision to sit and reaffirmed his commitment to continue sitting during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" until there's "significant change."
"I'll continue to sit. I'm gonna... stand with the people": Colin Kaepernick sits in protest https://t.co/jKBgCgLrwD https://t.co/nurCVkGc8e — CNN (@CNN) August 29, 2016
His quote in full:
I'll continue to sit. I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me, this is something that has to change, and when there's significant change, and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way its supposed to, I'll stand.
Colin Kaepernick is more right than he may know.
It's only the first verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" which blares from speakers before the start of seemingly every sporting event in America, but did you know there are actually four verses to our National Anthem?
According to an article published by The Intercept, there are four lines in the third verse of Francis Scott Key's song that not only defend slavery, but actually celebrate the killing of slaves.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I'm no history buff, but it appears during the War of 1812, British soldiers actively recruited slaves to help their cause.
The British attacked Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814 with the help of slaves, and, according to The Intercept, when Key saw the fort's flag still standing the following morning, he was inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- including the third verse.
For those of you still wondering, no, the NFL, while they may encourage it, can't force a player to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.
Like Muhammad Ali, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul and other high-profile athletes who have acted before him, Colin Kaepernick is choosing to use his status to fight for those who don't have a voice. For those who have been forgotten by this country. For those who continue to be killed for no reason.
He may be choosing to sit inside the NFL's stadiums, but his courageous decision to stand with those who continue to have their legs kicked out from under them says far more about the type of person he really is.
You know what they say, right? If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything.