Saturday, September 3, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the national anthem

It's certainly been big news in the sports world and beyond that San Fran 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has recently refused to stand for the national anthem. While standing for the Star Spangled Banner is surely regarded as a patriotic gesture ---

He doesn't have to. There's a lot of things people aren't required to do. One can stop bathing and brushing their teeth. Or wear the same clothes every day, including underwear and socks (unlaundered) for weeks or even months at a time. There's no law on the books compelling these actions. One won't get hauled off to the pokey and/or prosecuted for any of the above.

But there might be other consequences. Others don't necessarily have to approve. In fact, it is THEIR right to criticize and even strongly dislike a person who chooses to engage in such activity, or inactivity.

Kaepernick has seen his fair share of disapproval rain down on his head. It's America. Kaepernick can sit for his own reasons, while others make him out to be some sort of anti-American villain. All are well within their rights.

CK has experienced great success in the football world. Even making it to the NFL is quite the feat, let alone being a starting QB for a team playing in the Super Bowl. Scads of money and fame come with the territory. Few begrudge him his accomplishments in this regard.

Yet besides the anthem issue, things have not gone well for Kaepernick. The once high and mighty 49ers have become one of the worst teams in the league. CK himself has recently found out he lost his starting QB job. This to one Blaine Gabbert -- he of the career 8-27 record. Some guy that's won only a quarter of his starts has displaced him? Oh my.

Not that it should make any difference, but if somebody's going to take an unpopular stand on an issue, it's usually helpful if they've been riding some degree of success. CK has seemed to have run into the proverbial double whammy. He and his team have fallen off drastically from what they once were and Kaepernick himself has become distinctly unlikable to millions on a personal basis.

Whether or not CK's reasons for his recent actions are viable is open to debate. Like most politics, there's no iron-clad right and wrong. It's a matter of opinion. People on both sides can rant, rave, and stomp their feet for or against an issue, but the other side deserves equal respect as well. And let's be clear. Kaepernick is hardly the lone ranger here. Though his stance is unpopular with the majority, there can be no doubt he has his backers as well.

Thing is, Kaepernick has painted himself into a corner. He can continue to stand (or sit) for what he believes to be a righteous cause and watch his popularity wither away even more. Or he can flip-flop and fall in line with the views of the majority. In that case, there are those that would call him a phony, a grandstander looking for attention, even a coward. There's no easy way out of this mess for not so poor CK.

He's making millions as, presumably, an oppressed black man. Then again, a truly oppressed individual wouldn't have the stage to champion a cause that CK enjoys as a high profile athlete. Again, it can be seen both ways.

It probably wouldn't be a good idea for Kaepernick to escalate the matter by, say, burning US flags. If he thinks the patriotic sharks are agitated now, they'd be in a regular feeding frenzy if he started torching the red, white and blue.

But while yours truly doesn't advocate such an action, it's not illegal either. Just unpopular. In fact, the US Flag Code itself (yes, there is such a thing) clearly states the preferred method of disposing of an unwanted or worn out flag is to burn it. By definition, even a protester no longer "wants" the flag he/she is about to set fire to. You can hate him/her for it, but they not only have a right, existing governmental policy itself encourages it. Leave it to the bureaucrats to create a set of "rules", then rail against those that would follow them. Only in America.

Maybe this whole thing will die down in time. CK can continue to sit (in more ways than one) and the attention of those that will deride him will shift elsewhere. It's hard to believe this will be an on-going hot button issue. Don't we have more pressing things to concern ourselves with?

You know, like your significant other decide to stop bathing, brushing their teeth, and wearing the same clothes for a year or so.

Now THAT would be a problem......


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