|By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
I am truly amazed at the hornet's' nest stirred up by San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick. His choice to kneel or sit during the playing of our National Anthem has made him a traitor in the eyes of many. The public backlash has made a major mountain out of this molehill. At one point there was even an article in which "anonymous" NFL executives spoke of how Kaepernick could never play for their teams. And while team GM's must do what they think best, how does exercising a constitutional right make a man a traitor?
For the record, I find Kaepernick’s actions disrespectful. The socks he tends to wear are an even bigger problem, sending the wrong message to children who see athletes as heroes. However I cannot argue with the impact resulting from one man taking a stand. Kaepernick has helped continue a conversation, doing so without the violence which all too often has found its way into our national consciousness about race. It is a conversation which, if handled properly, can only make our nation stronger by forcing us to face areas where we suffer so great a divide.
I cannot stand (sit) with Colin Kaepernick as I choose to stand with pride when I hear our national anthem. I stand to recognize his right to continue his protest into the regular season if he so chooses. I stand because the flag and country for which he refuses to stand allows us all to disagree. It is his right not to stand and to choose a loss of endorsements and perhaps even the loss of his privilege to play in the NFL (I doubt it. Worse locker room cancers have found roster spots.) And while I will not sit with him, Kaepernick has earned my respect for being willing to take a stand.
One thing exercising his rights should not earn Kaepernick is the title of traitor. Being a free country means we do not always have to toe the line. Being free means some of us can choose to sit even while the rest choose to stand.