Late last week San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick decided that he could no longer stand up at attention when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played at games. This is because, he said, the U.S. is evil and filled with racists. Only hours passed before millions of fans let Kaepernick and the 49ers know just what they thought of his anti-American statement.
The player’s recalcitrance was at first ignored by both the national media as well as the national sports media. As Breitbart News reported, immediately after the game no one in the sports media asked Kaepernick nor coach Chip Kelly why the player was not standing during the playing of the anthem.
But not long after the post game media was over, fans showed they noticed what he did as the game began and tongues on social media users began to wag. The pressure mounted quickly and likely expecting to be congratulated for his “bravery,” Kaepernick soon explained why he did what he did.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
What ever Kaepernick thought the reaction should be to his actions, it seems the management of the 49ers understood a public relations mess was brewing. Immediately after the game the team quickly issued a public statement about the incident.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
With this the team tried to have it both ways. By defending the anthem and celebrating its patriotism yet fully supporting Kaepernick’s right to be hateful of it, the team thought it had covered all the bases.