Early on Saturday, the President of the United States tweeted the following:
You’ve probably heard the backstory by now. Last year, Colin Kaepernick, then quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem. A handful of other players followed his lead.
Now, Kaepernick does not have a job in the NFL, but his actions began to inspire a larger movement. Marshawn Lynch, Michael and Martellus Bennett, and more, have spoken out this season. Their motives were to bring to attention a national dilemma – that black men are being killed and mistreated by the police. Black men – Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and far too many more – are not given a chance for justice before their lives are unfairly taken.
There will be people saying that an NFL game is not the right platform for this kind of message. These people are wrong.
We are living in a country where the President says and does whatever he wants, in a blatantly disrespectful motion to the hundreds of millions of people he represents. For the failed entertainer, drumming up controversy and stirring divisiveness is simply an act to get more attention. But the actions Donald Trump takes are dangerous, and whether or not he can see the effects of what he does, many of the people he’s responsible for are suffering.
If the President cannot protect – or even represent – his people, he has failed. When this has happened, other cultural leaders must make their voices heard. If pro athletes – who have real, important political opinions and can be agents for change – want to serve this function, so be it.
And now, they’re perfectly positioned to. We have a President who continues to confuse nationalism for patriotism, in a White House full of unqualified cronies who only have their jobs because of mindless bootlicking. Colin Kaepernick has devoted countless time and resources to aid “oppressed communities,” in his words. LeBron James (who called Trump a “bum” on Twitter) has donated $41 million to send kids from his home of Akron to college. Athletes are using their positions to enact real, positive change in the United States – something that the current administration, with the power of the Constitution behind them, consistently fails to do.
For a huge number of American kids, a pro athlete is their biggest role model. In athletes, many children see the best embodiment of what they one day could be. Every race and religion is represented, and for many athletes (like their fans), pro sports is both a way to live out the American Dream and to act as a charitable person and give back to their and other communities. In short, to be a pro athlete in the U.S. is an immense responsibility, just like any kind of government position. In 2017, it’s up to regular citizens to see that NFL and NBA players are doing a better job with their responsibilities than the Executive branch.
If you love our country, love our values, not the people that are currently running it. NFL players will continue to kneel during the national anthem because they love our country, and they want to make it better.
In 2017, let sports be political, because our politicians are not doing their jobs.