Staff Editorial: Kaepernick’s Protest

MARK TATUM Sports Editor

I believe that the First Amendment is one of the great freedoms of our country. Now more than ever, people are able to speak out their opinions to the rest of the country. Case in point: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

For all four of the San Francisco 49ers preseason games, Kaepernick chose to sit on the bench during the National Anthem. According to, Kaepernick 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. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

If Kaepernick’s reason for not standing was because he believes that the National Anthem shouldn’t be strictly enforced at a sporting event, that’s fine. Professional sports are supposed to be entertaining for its audiences. The MPAA isn’t playing the National Anthem before every movie in a theater. It would make sense for someone to believe that sports and entertainment should be separate from the government.

Instead, he is only bringing attention on himself. The following week, photos surfaced of Kaepernick at practice wearing socks with pigs in police officer suits. In a press conference, he wore a shirt with the graphic of Malcolm X and Fidel Castro greeting one another from 1961. This is the most confusing part to me about Kaepernick’s complaint.

Cuba under Castro was quite literally the opposite of what America is today as far as human rights and freedom of speech. Cuba’s government had a totalitarian form of leadership and made it against the law to speak your voice on inequality. In this situation, Castro is the last governmental leader you’d want to use to support your argument.

Kaepernick started the later half of the 49ers’ 2012 season when they went on to play in the Super Bowl. Since then, Kaepernick’s performance has regressed each year and is now the backup to Blaine Gabbert. I don’t understand why Kaepernick waited until the preseason of his sixth year in the NFL to make this statement. On top of the backlash he’s received, he puts his organization – from the coaches, teammates and fans of the 49ers, in a tough spot on the issue.

Police brutality has been a popular topic in the media throughout the country for the past couple of years, mainly due to the races of both the police officer and the victim. While there is legitimate claim of the justification for these cases, I think that the media has the most control over the stories and how they are reached to their audience. Any wrongdoing by police officers should be decided by judges and juries, not by the media’s influence on the general public. In today’s world, you don’t have to be a multi-million dollar athlete to let your voice be heard.

Social media allows us the freedom of expressing our opinion in ways we could have only dreamed of doing a few years ago, but it also makes it difficult to generate rational discussion with one another.

I don’t have a problem with Kaepernick not standing during the national anthem. However, if he’s trying to make a statement about current issues of human rights in America, he hasn’t considered the people who have fought for him to take that stance.