Shouldn’t we be happy athletes are taking a knee rather than a selfie?

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Eli Harold takes a knee during the National Anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, CA. The Cardinals won 33-21. (Daniel Gluskoter/AP Images)

Young people often get branded as narcissists who spend their lives puckering and pouting for Instagram. So, why do we complain when they embrace a cause and take a knee instead of a selfie?

High school athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities are following San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s lead, and drawing the same fire as the NFL quarterback. The reactions are heated. In last week’s game in Buffalo, Bills’ fans booed Kaepernick while vendors outside the stadium hawked shirts with his image in the crosshairs of a rifle scope.

When the AJC reported Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale’s comment that, if student athletes took a knee during the national anthem, “their asses would be benched,” social media applauded. Among the comments: “Love it. Ragsdale for President,” “Yay, bench them all,” “I hope he follows through. It’s time to put a stop to that treasonous nonsense.” (Cobb later said athletes would not be punished for exercising their First Amendment rights.)

But Kaepernick’s protest is not a show of disloyalty or disdain, according to former black athletes who also staged public protests.

At a Morehouse College panel earlier this month on race, sports and the activist athlete, 1968 Olympic medalist John Carlos, who, along with fellow American medalist Tommie Smith, raised a black-gloved fist from the podium in Mexico City, said he felt duty-bound to use that moment to condemn racism. And while he paid a lifelong price for his actions, Carlos said he does not regret what he did, nor should Kaepernick.

As a child in Harlem, Carlos met baseball legend Jackie Robinson and saw the racism that even a superstar African-American athlete endured in America. It made a lasting impression. “I have been on a crusade all my life,” Carlos said. “It took me to Mexico City with no hesitation. If you have to step up and make a decision to set a precedent, there is no room for hesitation. There is no room for neutrality. My advice to the athletes speaking out is to stand fast.”

Carlos and Smith returned home to scorn — sportswriter Brent Musburger called them “black-skinned storm troopers”— and deaths threats for their actions on the medal stand. What Carlos did nearly 50 years ago and what Kaepernick began to do 57 days ago can jeopardize careers, according to several pro athletes, advocates and sports industry leaders at the Morehouse event.

“There was no one in our camp that would have told Colin to take the knee,” said sports marketing executive Carlos Fleming, whose clients include Kaepernick, Venus Williams and Cam Newton. “He could have been cut that Monday. If he played for Jerry Jones, he would have been cut Monday.” (The Dallas Cowboys owner criticized football players taking a knee.)

“You don’t do what these men have done unless you care tremendously about America,” said civil rights activist Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of “The Revolt of the Black Athlete.” Edwards has counseled athletes, including John Carlos and Colin Kaepernick, on how to harness their celebrity to address injustice and prepare them for the fallout.

“You don’t sit down and rationally decide I am going to fight this. Your battle will pick you,” said Edwards. When athletes ask what their role should be, Edwards advises them to study the issue and, if they commit to a public stand, resolve, “It is up to me to win this battle because it means those who come after me will not have to fight the battle I should have fought and fight the one facing them.”

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21 comments
GTA1950
GTA1950

People being miss treated by law enforcement or any one else for whatever reason is WRONG! Content of character rather than color of skin! I guess I owe the Kings some money now.

BruceF55
BruceF55

People like Downey should focus on the truth and maybe they could do some good in the world. More whites are killed by police than blacks (by a wide margin). Blacks are more likely to shoot a police man and black police officers are more likely to shoot a black man. The police (black or white) are more afraid for their lives when they approach a black man.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

The San Francisco 49ers and the NFL could have nipped the Kaepernick issue in the bud in about 30 seconds.  When you are on company time, you abide by company rules.  Your "freedom of speech" is tempered by company policy.  The NFL lost me as a fan a couple of decades ago (actually, all "professional" sports and most colleges).


The public high school athlete?  That's a different issue as you now have a GOVERNMENT employee involved in making a decision regarding the rights of a citizen.  Of course, back in my high school days, if you were to do something that put the team in a negative light, you probably wouldn't enjoy practice the following Monday..... (that is, if I could still sit after my Dad got a little belt action going....)


But, the bottom line is that the entire "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Black Lives Matter" have been proven to be little more than political propaganda.  

mgunter
mgunter

His actions are repulsive to me. This being America , he has the right to do what he wants and I have the right to stop watching the NFL. I haven't missed it at all. Evidently quite a few other folk have turned off th NFL also.

30303
30303

In November, a majority of Georgia voters will likewise be protesting the leftward drift of our Supreme Court, the invasion of illegal immigrants lured by an Administration which openly refuses to enforce immigration laws and a national debt which has nearly doubled in the past seven years.

But we'll be protesting with our vote, not grandstanding in front of TV cameras.

irishmafia1457
irishmafia1457

Shouldn’t we be happy athletes are taking a knee rather than a selfie ?        Only if  you are a socialist liberal   like Downey !

methuselahschild
methuselahschild

well then .. i guess his wearing a black panther t-shirt is in the same light? maybe some others can wear KKK or NAZI shirts and use the NAZI salute .. the same attitude should apply .. owners of the NFL are now feeling the squeeze in lost revenue.. soon to be passed down to the employees.. he is free to do what he wants during his time.. but on their dime he should do what they ask or find a new position... lets see what the owners do.. personally i find it disgusting and have my own protest.. its called turning the channel ... 

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

So what is it that Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter Movement seeking to accomplish ?

classicalmom
classicalmom

The flag is not responsible in any way for the evils done by men in a fallen, sinful world.  I'll stand by the flag that still represents a worldview that is completely opposite of that in North Korea or any other evil dictatorship.  Our flag and Constitution are not the propblems--it's the knuckleheads who have successfully persuaded a large part of the population that they "deserve" everything. Unfortunately, those who disdain the beautiful ideas of our founders also have very little joy, as they are busy nursing vices such as greed, bitterness, and ungratefulness.  



1Robert
1Robert

He is hurting the brand and should protest on his dime not on the NFLs.  Maybe he can spend his money and time making things happen instead of just whining about it.

Astropig
Astropig

Respect for our flag and our country must be voluntary.Phony reverence for either is exactly what they have in North Korea.


But free speech and free thought also allows people to point out that Kaepernick is a hypocrite. 

Astropig
Astropig

@jezel @Astropig


Nope. A hypocrite for all the times he stood and put his hand over his heart while not really believing in it.

Grob_Hahn
Grob_Hahn

@jezel @Astropig OR, he's just using it for publicity.  Keep in mind this is a wealthy 1%-er.  Until he pulled this he was a bench warmer, now he's playing again.  Coincidence?  Not likely.  More likely he's being "rewarded" by his America-using employers.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Always good to see people informed and engaged in our democracy.


And unless you have a plan for justice and equality for all.....

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

@BurroughstonBroch definitely equal opportunity to succeed. Those who are kneeling are drawing attention to the fact that all of us are not treated equal and just ....by the criminal justice system and by law enforcement


The  city of Atlanta police... APD...are doing an outstanding job. So that proves that there is a correct way to handle situations.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Not equality for all; equality of opportunity for all. There's a great difference.

General Concern
General Concern

I have no problems with anyone not saluting my country, for I assure you I won't be saluting yours. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Nondescript Name


You may be more right than you know. A short generation from now,there will be a backlash in the works by kids as yet unborn against whatever passes for "convention" of that day.


We can't know what form it will take,but when it happens,the people that are now lauding Kaepernick will themselves be revulsed by the rejection of what they now hold dear.

John A. Jenkins
John A. Jenkins

While I recognize the right to protest, I am nonetheless tired of the silly protests toward our country through the medium of the National Anthem. Is there injustice towards people of color, ethnicity and gender? Of course there is! Unfortunately it will always be because of the unregenerate hearts of men.

I shall always stand for the anthem in a grateful and reverential way. I, too, have had injustices committed against me. I abhor what our government has sanctioned in abortion, gay marriage and immigration, just to name a few. But, when I stand for the anthem, I neither protest not celebrate injustice, but stand to celebrate what is great about America.

Without a doubt, it is still the greatest country in the world and a land of opportunity for potential, hope, success and inalienable rights. Perfect, no! Promising, yes!

You have the right to protest. But, when you take government assistance, food stamps, educational aid and many other benefits from that very country you protest, then your protest is exceeded only by you hypocrisy.

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