Colin Kaepernick chose to sit down for the national anthem last weekend and you can find his reasons here. But I would like to add some thoughts about his action:
- Obviously, Kaepernick is free to express himself in this way as long as he's willing to accept the consequences of his act -- which he seems to understand. We have been waiting for athletes to return to their role as activists for years and when one comes along, we cannot then condemn them for it.
- My father was a proud veteran of World War II but had some interesting thoughts about the playing of the anthem prior to just about every athletic event he ever attended. "It cheapens it." he said. "We're standing in the rain among a crowd of a few hundred people at a minor-league baseball game and somebody who can't sing is trying to get through one of the most difficult songs anyone has ever had to sing. It's disrespectful. Play the song on opening day and before the first game of the World Series and that's good enough."
- So is it worse to sit down during the anthem or to hide it? Watch just about any of your favorite baseball, basketball or football teams' games on television and try to find the rendition of the anthem. Same thing on the radio. Almost every time it's not shown or heard. TV and radio broadcasts generally "cover" the anthem with commercial breaks just prior to the game. And many of you don't even notice. So is the anthem THAT important? If it is, where is the outrage over not getting to see it on TV or hear it on the radio?
- Kaepernick's action was anything but new. I can recall in the late 1960s and early '70s I'd see entire sections of a grandstand sitting during the anthem at college basketball games, when activism was much higher on campuses than it is now. Those fans made their statement and that was fine.
- In general, players and fans pay little attention to the anthem. I know what it stands for -- we all do. It is a statement. But when you make a strong statement, you should always expect someone to take issue with it. And if you make that same statement before 162 baseball games or 16 football games or 82 basketball games, isn't it only natural for people to begin to take it for granted? Kaepernick's sit-down sparked a whole lot of thought about the anthem again.
- Do they play the anthem before your job starts every day? I doubt it. They don't play it prior to movies, either. For some reason, sports have always wrapped themselves in the flag. It's not always appropriate.
- I really don't think Kaepernick's actions meant he had no respect for the military and its veterans. It does him a disservice to try to turn this into a condemnation of people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
- Ultimately, Kaepernick's tenure with the 49ers will last only as long as he can ably man the quarterback position. So far, that doesn't look like a long time. In fact, it's possible that the conversation he started will last longer than his career.