Standing up for sitting down

America the Beautiful, built on freedom, held together by football and beer. But when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick used this freedom to express his opinion on a very relevant, known issue across our nation, America started doing what they do best at football games, they started yelling.

In America, we have the freedom to speak our minds and voice our opinions. Our society has a history of overcoming social issues by coming together and discussing our differences – by actually listening to each other. But things have changed. When toes are stepped on and opinions contradict each other, we have stopped listening. When Colin Kaepernick remained seated during the National Anthem, America decided not to listen and just instantly expressed outrage.

Few individuals know that the Charger’s game was not the first time Kaepernick decided not to stand and honor the National Anthem. In fact, it was the third time he had done this, but the first to do so fully dressed in an NFL jersey. Our nation views collegiate and professional athletes as saints—untouchable and unstoppable both on and off the field. These athletes are especially impressionable on children; One main argument being used by the public against Kaepernick’s actions was he should not be showing our youth it is acceptable to disrespect our country. However, we have Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, still performing as an active and valued athlete after domestically abusing his wife. Jameis Winston, National Champion quarterback for Florida State University, was under investigation for sexually assaulting a fellow student, yet was never once suspended from a game throughout the trial. And more recently, the Brock Turner case, where his success as a swimmer for Stanford only got him 3 months of jail for raping a woman.

America shows that you can commit acts of rape, murder, sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use, etc. and it can have a minimal effect on your public appearance and career as an athlete. But the one thing you cannot get away with is sitting down. Our youth has already witnessed these actions and been shown that money and status can get you out of illegal actions.

So what message has Kaepernick’s completely legal message sent besides “Stand up for what you believe in?”

Many people also had this idea that Kaepernick’s actions were a desperate call for attention, a publicity stunt for his career. However, since this event, many executives within the NFL have publicly stated Kaepernick will never have a place on their team. Quotes from executives include, “I don’t want him anywhere near my team. He’s a traitor.” While some more extreme remarks include profane language used against the athlete. These are grown adults making public statements towards a situation many of them have not given any thought into, but their opinions on the situation continue to be anonymously bold and, of course, ignorant. When it comes to Kaepernick’s decision, one could definitely say it will only limit the places his football career can travel.

This controversial issue has spiked sales in his jersey, it is currently the number one selling jersey in the NFL. Kaepernick announced that his share of this revenue would be donated to charity in addition to the $1 million he has already signed to donate towards local charities dedicated to fight against the oppression of minorities. Tell me again how this is a cry for attention and fame?

Kaepernick has been open to press conferences, interviews, and has faced the wrath of America calmly and eloquently. He has listened to those around him and formed his opinion on the topic with respectful words and useful information and statistics. Whether you believe in what he has done to be inappropriate or not, Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated more poise and understanding for the two sides of the equation than anybody has thus far while approaching him. Something we can all take away from his actions is not based on the overall awareness of oppression he is sending, but the fact that we all need to grow as individuals when it comes to listening to each other. When we disagree – especially when we disagree – we need to listen. That is when we have the best opportunity to learn.

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