The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in to your account.Don't have an account? Register
Only in a USA run by a KKK endorsed candidate would a peaceful act of protest like what Kaepernick did be considered "merely political"! It is embarassing to see how poorly this issue of regressive american race policies had turned what would otherwise be gestures of civil liberties like those performed by Athletes during the Hitler Olympic into an issue of Apartheid hiring policies. Words cannot describe how uncivilised this makes USA look. I am not sure why NFL are not embarassed by how backwards they come across in a global sense. Just crass and uneducated in the way the matter was handled....appallingly unskilled!
NFL is up there with NASCAR having the least educated sport fans. The sport, which is at least as unhealthy as is pro boxing, cynically sacrifices young (mostly black) men, internally monikered "cattle", to the enrichment of white owners.
Kaepernick DID NOT start his protest until after he lost his starting job and it looked like he would be a third stringer if that. His lawyer admits he filed the suit because HE thinks he is one of the 10 best QBs in the NFL and he should be playing, this is an economic suit not based on idealogy. Well, many other people think they are also good enough and aren't. Further, the main stream media has NEVER shown the socks he was wearing when he started this protest (little pig police socks) and we should ask why. For someone who grew up never knowing anything but privilege as is accorded many who are good or great in athletics beyond what his family provided him he really is debasing himself with this suit. But then I don't watch much sports and I am certainly not going to waste money an a ticket to a pro football game. It is entertainment and only entertainment and they are ruining that no matter what their motivation may be. If I want to see political garbage I'll turn on CNN or MSNBC.
Let's remember - having players stand on the field for the national anthem is a, recent, convention. It started when the U.S. Military signed a $750M deal with the NFL for joint promotion and marketing. This idiotic jingoism is all just so much fake patriotism and manipulation. Also remember, the NFL had an opening tv theme song by Hank Williams Jr, an admitted Holocaust denier who, reportedly, called a sitting President a piece of sh*t and a Muslim at a concert.
So....the NFL was paid $750,000,000 to have on the field for the national anthem. Sounds like they have a contractual obligation to fulfill.
Your comment seems to imply that the anthem itself is a recent phenomenon in sports. It is not. Also, "players" encompass more than just football -- all the other sports also play the anthem, and players have often been part of that tradition of standing respectfully for much longer than the NFL. Likewise, fans standing respectfully at attention has been part of the game for decades as well (along with the various disrespectful variations that some fan bases have developed, like Orioles shouting "O" during the anthem, or Rockets fans shouting "ROCKETS red glare" with extra emphasis).
The song that became the national anthem was actually sung in sporting events since the late 1880s.
See http://time.com/4955623/history-national-anthem-sports-nfl/ ("The earliest documented performance [of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at a baseball game] occurred on May 15, 1862, during the opening game played at Union Base Ball and Cricket Grounds in Brooklyn, New York.")
The song became a tradition for major league baseball starting with the 1918 at the World Series. ESPN has a nice little article describing the history here:
The NFL started regularly playing the national anthem at games following the conclusion of WWII. In the same Time Magazine article cited above, they quote: "At the end of the war, after Japan announced it would surrender, NFL Commissioner Elmer Layden called for all of the league's teams to play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at their games, arguing, 'The National Anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kick-off. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.'"
While baseball players for the past 100 years have stood on the field for the anthem, football players often just stayed in the locker room. The NFL mandated that players be "on the field" for the anthem in 2009, but have never had any mandate that the players stand, salute, or otherwise participate in the anthem.
By any objective measure, Kaep shd be playing in the NFL. This is, really, an age-old story - the quick, and severe, retribution of anyone who dares to question current societal orthodoxy and challenge racism and white privilege. Attempts to fashion it as something else are inane. The problem is legal tests for collusion don't consider the application of racism, which survives, precisely, bc it doesn't need actors to, explicitly, collude. I'd posit Kaep is, keenly, aware of this, yet sees the principle as so important he is willing to take this stand. Given this, and his commitment to public service, in both time and money, I'd say he is an American hero and represents the best ideals we purport to strive for, as a nation, but seldom do.
Ray Rice was a Pro Bowl caliber running back who became untouchable by any NFL team, and they didn't collude to keep him off the field -- after he threw a mean left-hook that knocked his fiancee unconscious (on video no less), none of them were stupid enough to court the fury that would have descended on them for hiring a wife-beater. The same goes for any other potential employee. It doesn't matter whether you are doing something criminal or standing up for what you think is right, your actions (political or social or selfish) have consequences, and employers are not obligated to take on headaches that are not worth the cost versus the value. Similarly, there are probably owners that vehemently disagree with Kaepernick's method of protest, even if they support his right to his opinion, and don't want him as their employee. This is also perfectly legal and permissible.
Kaepernick is trying to make a federal case out of nothing. The fact that everybody doesn't want to hire him is not prima facie evidence of any sort of collusion. Just like the fact that a group of customers might each independently refuse to patronize a restaurant that has rude waiters, or refuse to patronize a business that is not "green", or not buy a product that is produced by child labor overseas, etc., they are all acting because they hold the same opinion, but that does not mean that they formed that same opinion by colluding with others who had that same opinion.
Kaepernick might still get an NFL job -- after all, some franchise might be desperate enough for a QB that they are willing to take on all the sound and fury that will come with hiring him. If Kaepernick wants a job, fighting imaginary collusion is not a way to endear yourself to the owners you want to have hire you -- proving he can add more value than he brings in associated costs is the way to do that.
He should get a haircut and a new job.
I know nothing about American sports, still less about Mr Kaepernick. But he appears to be my idea of a true hero because he must, surely, have known the inevitable consequences, particularly the backlash from the fake patriots now villifying and punishing him - not to mention his financial losses. It follows that I wish him every success in his lawsuit, though it's going to be hard, as I'm sure his lawyers have already told him. Proving collusion is no easy task without at least strong circumstantial evidence, which the league owners would have gone to great lengths to conceal. Indeed, given the foul and nasty politics behind it all, I doubt if there even had to be any collusion at all.
But if nothing else, he's already exposed one of the hypocrisies that inform American patriotism: the ease with which they are willing to sacrifice their alleged sacred beliefs (in this case, freedoms of thought and expression) on the altar of what would have been phoney conformity.
Or perhaps what I really meant to say was that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, as someone one said.
He quit. "Opted out" and expected the offers to roll in when he was ready to brave the astroturf again as a social justice QB. Does he realize how inequitable fupbah salaries are?
Tight ends make about 36 cents for every dollar a QB pulls down. Wheres the outcry?
Does his European heritage side pay reparations to his african american side?
It is the NFL that should be suing Kaepernick.
The NFL is in the entertainment business. How many of you would pay $900 a seat to watch the cast of "Hamilton" take a dump on the stage? Probably not very many -- other than a few liberals -- because that is not entertainment. And, entertainment is the reason you paid that $900 in the first place.
Kaepernick's current situation has nothing to do with his (mediocre) skills as a QB. It has to do with his foolishness in gratuitously making himself box-office poison.
If a player does anything that the owner suspects leads to a reduction in the value of his franchise then out the bum goes! How many broadway producers sign-on for another year a lead who is booed off the state each time s/he sticks a nose through the curtains? How many sales organizations long to sign a rep whose initial sales line is to tell the possible customer to go "fxxk" himself . . . and the horse he rode in on?
Colin the K made himself obnoxious to many of the fans who line the owners' pockets. What did he expect to receive for this -- a team pat on the ass and a big, sloppy kiss?
Oops! Wrong color.
85 % Caucasian DNA ?
This article portrays Mr. Kaepernick as a better quarterback than he is. Some readers below have noted his performance at the helm of the mediocre San Francisco 49rs and his subsequent relegation to the sidelines. All of this happened before his controversial kneeling during the American national anthem.
The truth is that--as a private business--no NFL team is required to employ any worker whom it considers inadequate for the assigned task.
I have no doubt that Mr. Kaepernick's political gesture contributed to his negative perception by NFL owners. Nevertheless, they are within their right to decide who to hire and whom to fire.
Colin Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49er's to a 2-14 record last year and had a contract paying $14.5 million for 2017. He chose to opt out (quit) in the hopes of securing a better deal. Unfortunately for him, mediocre quarterbacks are not worth what he thinks they are, and a disruptive force in a team sport is worth even less.
Football is in the end an entertainment business, and Colin Kaepernick isn't good enough to turn a team into a winner, so his negatives make him a poor investment for any team. Personally, I think any mediocre football player who walks away from a $14.5 million contract isn't bright enough to lead a team, so I'd be hesitant to hire him regardless of his political beliefs. Add in his negatives with the fan base, and you would have to be mentally challenged to add him to your team.
No player chooses to take their option. They have no bargaining position if they do.
He had 14,500,000 reasons to take the option. Ask his accountant if Kaepernick has more or less bargaining power now.
Kaepernick should understand something: he is an entertainer in one of the most competitive businesses around. He is just an employee. Nobody elected him. He didn’t win a competitive event. He just got selected from the large number of very capable people who can play quarterback. No doubt, he is good, but so are the others, and the others probably don’t plan on negatively affecting their team with their personal gripes. He has the right to protest whatever he likes, but not on his employer’s time, and not in a way that reduces the number of team fans in a very fan dependent business. What he has done is thumb his nose at society, and now he is upset that he can’t get away with it. Good luck selling cars.
It's ironic that Trump's speech in Huntsville a few weeks ago led many teams to kneel during the playing of the US national anthem. And it's even more ironic that Colin Kaepernick, who started it all, is not in the field.
Trump ran heavily again political correctness. The greatest example of political correctness is taking offense where none is intended. Mr. Kaepernick is protesting the treatment of his brethren in this country, not to disrespect the flag or our veterans. This just goes to show the thin skinned Mr. Trump is the biggest snowflake out there. The premeditated walkout by his VP cost taxpayers more than a quarter million dollars. It also goes to show that Trump will use political hand grenades to keep his supporters from realizing what a failure his administration has been.
The recent injury of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay will go further to prove Mr. Kaepernick's case. Green Bay has two untested QBs in reserve with little pedigree. All in all, his play was the biggest factor in not being in the league. But if Josh McCown can find a roster spot, Kaepernick should be there too.
Profession sports are a business. If the owners could profit off this guy, they would do so. After all, Michael Vick (whose behavior was much worse) was able to rehabilitate himself. Plus, Kaepernick could find a job in Canada.
There are 32 NFL teams. Nobody deserves a job unless the people paying the salaries say so. Keep your politics off the field. Taking a knee during the national anthem isn't actually making any difference. It is just to bring attention to yourself. Now, everyone in the unemployment line will know him.
Winning brings in more money than losing. If taking a knee isn't making any difference, why are we talking about it?
He deserves a job, but:
1. He's going to have a hard time proving there was any collusion
2. I don't think there was any collusion in the true sense of the word - no one wanted to hire him, regardless of what other franchises were doing
He could make serious money being a spokesperson for Black rights now that this has happened to him if he's upset about being unemployed, and I'm not saying this out of spite (I agree with his cause). He could just make a lot of money in that arena now.
Yes, because I want to hear a football player tell me about society and government. No doubt they are an expert. Do you think Kaepernick or the others have ever read the Constitution?
So does one need to be a Constitutional expert in order to speak out against wrongs in this country? This sounds like some of the same complaints against our last President, who happened to be a Constitutional scholar.
No - and neither do I, to be honest. But a) he could make a lot of money, which is ultimately what he's complaining about, and b) you don't need to read the constitution to say anything about basic human rights.