It’s a bright Sunday afternoon, a great day for football. The stadium is packed and full of anticipation. The players walk out, and the crowd goes wild. The game is about to start.
Traditionally, before any sporting event, the United States National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” is played. Everyone stands, and the gentlemen remove their hats. Everything seems normal, except for one person… one man chooses to sit.
In August 2016, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, chose to sit, and later kneel during the national anthem to protest the oppression of African Americans in America.
According to the website Recode, “Sunday Night Football” is the most regularly watched prime-time television program in the nation, with an average of 22.2 million viewers in 2017. As the most watched television program, one would consider the athletes participating highly influential people.
Many were outraged by Kaepernick’s protest in 2016, but he responded calmly to his critics.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. … This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right,” said Kaepernick.
Although the controversy happened in 2016, earlier this month Nike released an ad with Kaepernick’s face along with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Many people were upset with Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick as the face for the ad, and a massive boycott on Nike has occurred since then. The company’s sales dropped initially, and sneakers were burned. Is this an act of racism, or angry patriots protesting in respect for our troops?
Nike’s choice to support Kaepernick was a massive step forward in the Black Lives Matter movement, as being endorsed by Nike could be the beginning of support from many more companies.
Sophomore Taylor Doonan has not shied her opinion on the situation, stating, “Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can see this boycott as anything besides racist. Troops fight for our right as Americans to have the freedom to practice free speech. People are missing the point if they’re saying this about the flag. People are dying out there, it’s not okay. If Kaepernick has the platform to protest and people see it, why not use it?”
Comparatively, the six billion dollar profit since the ad aired that Nike acquired has far exceeded any boycott brought against them. Nike’s choice to use Kaepernick’s face has been risky, but it was well worth it.