Kaepernick’s Decision Under Scrutiny




On Aug. 26, the San Francisco 49ers backup Quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the pre-game national anthem. It is tradition that during the national anthem, players and fans alike will stand and honor the flag while the anthem is played. However, Kaepernick decided to sit during this period as a sign of protest, saying that “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” This controversial decision sparked national debate on the morality of the issue. Four Fordham students decided to share their views on this decision.

News Co-Editor

Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit through the national anthem and the people who later decided to denounce him for the action share something in common: they both exercised their freedom of speech. They demonstrated patriotism for their country. These similarities, however, have been misconstrued by those who view patriotism and freedom of speech as only expressible in a set list of practices. This checklist approach to free speech and patriotism is not only misleading and misinformed, but also ignores the purpose of the right of free speech reserved to citizens of the United States under the Constitution. As President Obama said, Kaepernick was “exercising his constitutional right” by sitting during the national anthem. Essentially, individuals don’t need to agree with what he did, but should at least respect his right to do so.

You don’t have to agree with what Kaepernick did or why he did it, but you should at least respect his decision and his right to sit through the national anthem. Standing for the national anthem is not a requirement in this country. It’s time to stop treating it like one and recognize the value of public criticism of our nation and work towards constructive dialogue and action; vehemently denouncing and attempting to invalidate Kaepernick’s decision accomplishes none of those things.

Managing Editor

At the 2016 ESPY Award Show in July, after a series of high-profile shootings, Lebron James pleaded to all athletes to “speak up, use [their] influence and renounce all violence, and most importantly, go back to [their] communities, invest [their] time, [their] resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.” At the time, athletes and analysts applauded James’ call to action. However, when Colin Kaepernick decided to sit for the national anthem and therefore create discussion on how minorities are treated in the United States, he was criticized for his stance. Kaepernick’s motive is not to disrespect those who have fought for our country, but to bring light to those who are oppressed. By creating conversation surrounding the treatment of people of color in the United States, Kaepernick is simply following the directions that analysts praised just two months ago. Whether or not you agree with Kaepernick’s decision, he is getting people talking and that is exactly what is necessary.

Contributing Writer

John Tortella, Team USA’s hockey coach, said he would bench any of his players who didn’t stand for the national anthem. New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider said, “It’s [Kaepernick’s] right to do, but everyone here is just concentrating on representing their country and their flag.” New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz says he can respect what Kaepernick is standing—or rather, not standing for. However, he said, “You’ve got to respect the flag and stand up with your teammates.” Standing up for the national anthem is a symbol of patriotism, and not standing could be seen as dishonoring the men and women in uniform who gave us our freedom of speech. Kaepernick says he will continue to kneel during the national anthem. “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, like this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Staff Writer

While it would be hypocritical to disregard the Kaepernick’s protests, it is his First Amendment right to sit during the anthem. However, it seems that Kaepernick could have chosen a better venue and time for his message—one that would not be interpreted as being disrespectful to our fallen soldiers and what the United States truly stands for.

Substantive debate on the use of our military is important, but we can never let personal politics override the gratitude we need to show to our veterans. It has always represented something better; what America strives to be if we work hard enough together. When we rise for the Star Spangled Banner before events, for just that minute, we are not divided as 49er fans or Packer fans; we are united as citizens of the United States. The anthem has always signified what Kaepernick is sitting for: a country united that sees all of its citizens as equals. As someone who is concerned about this issue, I think Kaepernick should stand.