Boycotting the NFL

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

The pending lockout of Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, from being picked up by any of the 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL) has fueled Kaepernick’s supporters to rally for a national boycott against the NFL and its sponsors. Kaepernick has refused to stand up and acknowledge the singing of the National Anthem as a political stand against racism, inequality, social injustice, and police brutality against African Americans in America. This is his way of bringing attention to and affirming to this country that Black lives matter. He is taking a controversial stand that many view differently.

There are those who feel celebrities in high profile positions should not use their celebrity status as a platform to voice their political views. They feel an individual should act only in the capacity of entertaining their fans or producing for their employers in a given venue, devoid of voicing or demonstrating their personal political views.

Apparently, owners of football teams and their affiliates are leery of being associated with the views by players, especially ones that may be viewed as unpopular or negative.

There are also the fans that strictly want to be entertained, associating political views or personal stands as distractions.

On the other side of the coin, you will equally find those fans attending football games who adamantly feel that those in the public light have an obligation and responsibility to use their platform to help educate and inform a sometimes unaware, naive or lackadaisical public. What better venue to bring attention to things of substance or to promote positive change?

Many supporters and fans see Kaepernick as a hero to be hailed and respected for taking a contentious political stance and holding true to it. His is in a position of conviction and integrity that few can ascribe to, with its pending consequences of persecution and condemnation. One can only conclude that he feels honoring a national anthem that he vehemently feels doesn’t respect him or people of color is hypocritical.

As an African American, I feel Kaepernick is being punished for bringing attention to what many see as corrupt practices by existing systems and establishments. There is no shortage of African Americans or other citizens of color who don’t feel as he does. For this he is being vilified, demonized, and crucified by a united group of owners who are bent on teaching him and others who may follow him a lesson for not staying in his place and accepting and the practicing the status quo. The African American community (and those interested in the quest for justice and righteousness) need to unite in their efforts to show solidarity in support for Kaepernick.

What is Kaepernick’s crime? Did he hurt or attack someone or advocate for hate or violence against anyone? Did he disown this country, vowing to leave? No he brought attention to legitimate wrongs in this country needing to be addressed and corrected to make this country better. He is being punished for utilizing his constitutional rights for taking a position for which someone lacking his national recognition might have been overlooked or dismissed.

The national boycott against the NFL (until Kaepernick is picked up by an NFL team) is not just about Kaepernick. It’s about a system trivializing the feelings and treatment of a whole group of Americans.

The reason for Kaepernick not being picked up by any NFL team is not about him not being qualified. One cannot seriously negate Kaepernick’s ability as not worthy for consideration when you look at some of the mediocre quarterbacks starting on NFL teams.

Whether you like Kaepernick or not, he has proven himself as a formidable quarterback. He has an appearance in a Super Bowl to his credit and is much better than some of the new starting quarterbacks, despite football injuries he has sustained in the past. His political stance should not cause him to be blackballed from the game of football.

Unfortunately, there will be some diehard football fanatics who will rationalize their position by not supporting the boycott. Throughout history, there have always been those lacking the strength and fortitude to stand up for something that will collectively benefit others, not just themselves. Let’s unite and show the ‘powers that be’ that our money counts, and we are willing to prove it to better our lot in this country. Supporting Colin Kaepernick is the right thing to do to bring about needed changes.