San Francisco 49ers (they’re in football for those readers that don’t know or don’t care) quarterback (guy who throws the ball), Colin Kaepernick has come under fire again, this week after admitting that he did not vote in the presidential election one week ago.
(I apologize if the parentheticals come off as condescending, but I decided to play it safe and assume that most of you reading about movies and TV don’t do sports)
Again, for those of you unaware of Kaepernick’s status as a lightning rod, here’s the short version:
Bi-racial but adopted and raised by caucasian parents, Kaepernick stated at the beginning of the current NFL season that he would not be standing during the singing of the national anthem before games, opting instead to take a knee, as a form of protest against police violence focused toward people of color. As you can well imagine, public opinion was and remains divided. Some NFL players and athletes in other sports joined Kaepernick’s protest while others criticized the quarterback for not honoring a country in which he is PAID MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO THROW A FUCKING BALL.
Now, don’t jump to conclusions. I’m not against Kaepernick’s protest because I think it’s unpatriotic or because it’s disrespectful to his employer or because I don’t believe in his message or because it seems to be at least partially inspired by his relationship with MTV host, radio DJ and Muslim rights activist, Nessa Diab.
First, nothing could be more patriotic than protesting our government; it’s one of the bedrock principles upon which it’s founded.
Second, his employers don’t seem to give a shit – ratings are still crazy good compared to every other professional sport, there was no cover-up to botch this time, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hair is still more aerodynamic than a Gulfstream G650 – so why should anyone else care?
Third, there is an obvious problem with police violence against citizens of all races, religions and sexuality, but especially (and I would be happy to debate the possibly reasons for this disturbing trend in a bar with anyone willing to buy rounds of cocktails) with people of color.
And finally, everyone changes in some way when they get into a new relationship. Clooney (allegedly) gave up serial starlet boning when he met Amal, Colin became more politically aware when he met Nessa, and I went back to showering and gave up snorting ground dark chocolate when I met Mrs. Marion; it happens to everyone.
No, I was against Kaepernick’s protest because of it’s timing.
He was riding the pine (he was no longer the starting quarterback for his team), he was out of the media spotlight except for talk of his being traded or cut by the team, and sales of his jersey on NFLshop.com were in the toilet … until his protest began.
The first time that he sat during the Star Spangled Banner, he became the hot topic not just for sports media but mainstream news as well. Replicas of his jersey went from shelf warmers to #5 on the bestsellers list without him stepping foot on the field during a game. Trade and cut rumors went away, and five games into the season, quarterback Blaine Gabbert was pulled and Kaepernick was returned to the starting lineup.
To me, the timing of his political awakening reeked of self-serving promotion. He was benched last year because his team sucked with him at the helm. But his stand, or rather, his refusal to stand, put him back in the spotlight and, after a salary renegotiation, back at the starting quarterback position. I could be wrong, but I find it hard to get behind a millionaire athlete whose protest righted no wrongs unconnected to the number of zeroes on his bank statement.
Now, if next Sunday, Dak Prescott, unbelievably talented quarterback of the 8 and 1 Dallas Cowboys (that means that they’re actually good this year), wants to kneel during the anthem, he has my 100 percent support because at least we’ll know for sure that he’s not doing it increase his Q score and jersey sales.
I told all of you that story so that I could tell you this story …
This week, critics pounced again, asking how Kaepernick can criticize our government while not exercising his right to vote and therefore, not participating in the process.
“I think it would be hypocritical for me to vote. I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression. I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”
– Colin Kaepernick
His response was simple, truthful, and actually made me believe that his protest has been sincere all along because …
I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t vote for Clinton. I … didn’t … vote.
From top to bottom, President to county commissioner, the ballot was filled with two sets of corrupt millionaires each pledging to use OUR MONEY better than the other side. Nowhere on the ballot was a referendum option of “Hey, you crooked fucks are all loaded with cash, how about putting YOUR MONEY where your mouth is for a change?”
If a plate of fresh steaming bullshit and a plate of old, hardened bullshit are my only dining options, I’m skipping the meal while STILL reserving the right to complain about those who wrote the fucked up menu.
And so should Kaepernick, if that’s what he wants to do.
I mean, when he’s not guiding his team to four straight losses, a dismal 1 and 8 record, and last place in their division.
FLY, EAGLES, FLY … (That means I root for a different team)
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.