Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Curse of the National Anthem

Looks like Colin Kaepernick did Gabby Douglas one better by sitting down for the national anthem, but Gabby wasn't lodging any sort of protest.  Colin said the flag is an insult to black people and people of color, citing police brutality as his principal concern in this country.  He also took exception to the fact that Francis Scott Key was a slave owner and an ardent anti-abolitionist.  CNN offers some backstory, including the rarely-sung third verse in which Key apparently sees slaves as expendable in times of war.  Not like many Americans can make their way through the first verse without mumbling the lines more or less to the music.

There is no rule in the NFL or any professional sport that says a player has to stand for the national anthem, but players who choose not to honor the flag face the wrath of the public or in today's age -- social media.  Not one to let a golden opportunity go to waste, the Trumpster chimed in, "maybe he should find a country that works better for him."

Colin has had a difficult time the last couple years in San Francisco.  He showed great promise in leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, but came up a few yards short of victory and has never been quite the same player since.  Sports pundits will tell you his flaws became more apparent in subsequent years and last year a frustrated Jim Tomsula benched Kaepernick halfway through the season.

Turns out Colin had problems with his left shoulder and right hand and underwent surgery during the off season.  There was some talk last Spring he would be traded to Denver, but the general manager of San Francisco didn't feel the Broncos made the deal sweet enough and kept Kaepernick instead.  Colin didn't seem overly frustrated as there was a new coach at San Francisco who was ready to give him the starting role again, but Kaepernick hasn't looked that good in practice and now there's talk he will be cut.

Of course, this leads sports pundits to wonder if Kaepernick's protest is real or just some sort of play to be traded.  He is locked into a multi-year deal until 2020, with little in the way of options except to be traded.  Unfortunately for him, such a stunt is frowned upon by team owners.  No one wants to deal with a "head case" on their team, not to mention the nearly $12 million Colin is owed this season. It doth appear Kaepernick has shot himself in the foot.

Not that he is the first professional athlete to lodge such a protest.  Jackie Robinson felt pretty much the same way as Colin, but as Craig Calcaterra is quick to point out Kaepernick is no Jackie Robinson.  Other athletes have silently voiced their protests over the years as well, meeting pretty much the same fate as Colin.  You're free to voice your opinion but you better be ready to face the consequences.

If we assume Kaepernick's grievances are genuine, as many periodicals have done, then all power to him as a social advocate as his football career appears to be over.  Colin will have to do battle with the forces that oppress this country in the streets, not the locker room as he has stated.  There is the Canadian Football League, but his protest wouldn't carry the same weight there.

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