The Kaepernick Effect

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CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18: Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline, during the anthem, prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers defeated the 49ers 46-27. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Linus Park, News Editor

From NFL players, to America’s starting midfielder for the Women’s National Soccer Team, to high school football players and cheerleaders, the recent phenomena of kneeling down and raising fists during the national anthem stemmed from one individual: Colin Kaepernick.

During the preseason of the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, now the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, displayed a behavior that caused a great uproar amongst the fans of the game and the general American population.

Just before the preseason opener on August 14th kicked off, Colin Kaepernick began his silent protest by sitting on the bench during the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The action continued to go unnoticed into the second week of preseason, as Kaepernick continued to sit down; however, on August 26th, at the third preseason game held in Santa Clara, California at Levi’s Stadium, Kaepernick gained attraction through a tweet, and the San Francisco 49ers released a statement confirming that Kaepernick had sat down during the anthem.

Two days after the headlines and attractions built up, the backup quarterback for the 49ers broadcasted,”I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. […] And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening.” These were the words and message of Kaepernick as he explained his stance and reasoning behind his protest.

In response to the action, the press demanded a statement from the commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell which he replied, “I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society. […] On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL.”

“There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country. And people don’t like to address that. And they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is,” said Kaepernick (per Eoghan Macguire, CNN) addressing the police shootings and brutality shown through social media. From this action, Kaepernick has successfully integrated the sports world as a podium to address the social issues under complete media spotlight.

Immediately, the nation began to sway and take up different angles to the individual phenomenon. Joined by his teammate Eric Reid, Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem instead of sitting down after a discussion with Nate Boyer (former Green Beret and NFL long snapper). The act then spread to the Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, which caused the whole team to take the silent protest to another level and lock arms as a unit following their season.

According to an interview with Nick Wagoner (ESPN Staff Writer), Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks starting wide receiver out of Stanford University, explained the reasons for his team locking arms, “We are a team comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds, and as a team we have decided to stand and interlock arms in unity. […] Progress can and will be made only if we stand together.”

Furthermore he added, “It’s not just the NFL landscape, it’s across the country right now, Obviously, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for him bringing it to light. So he’s stood on the table and shouted and got everybody’s attention. And now we have to work on the follow-through collectively.”

The Kaepernick Effect, raising the attention of social injustice within America, continues to change the minds of many involving both positive support and harsh criticism.

A Hall of Famer superstar NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice initially responded to Kaepernick’s actions with, “All lives matter. So much going on in this world today.Can we all just get along! Colin,I respect your stance but don’t disrespect the Flag.” (via Twitter @JerryRice, August 30, 2016). However, due to the extensive Kaepernick Effect and the recent Terence Crutcher incident, he has changed his views to, “I support @Kaepernick7 for bringing awareness for injustice !!!! As Americans we all have rights! Im hoping we all come together#solution” (@JerryRice, 9/20/16 1:36PM).

The Kaepernick Effect didn’t just spread across sports world, but also caught the attention of politicians involved in the upcoming election. Donald Trump “called for Kaepernick to leave the country,” while Senator Ted cruz added, “To all the athletes who have made millions in America’s freedom: stop insulting our flag, our nation, our heroes.”

According to Darren Rovell ESPN Senior Writer, as of week 3 of the regular season, Colin Kaepernick is now the most disliked player in the NFL. In a survey of demographics representing the the general population of the US, about 29% percent of the voters regarded Colin as “dislike a lot.”

Despite the immense growing hatred, Kaepernick’s jersey sales skyrocketed to the most sold jersey, an equivalent amount of gear sold by the 49ers in the previous eight months, in a mere span of a week according the Nick Wagoner of The Associated Press.

So how effective is the Kaepernick Effect? Inspecting the domino effect of Kaepernick’s action reaching new grounds and audiences, drawing attention to the racial injustice depicted through the cases of Terence Crutcher and the North Carolina shooting, the silent protest of one individual has led to a powerful movement across the country.
Reflecting on the Terence Crutcher incident, Kaepernick added this statement as he plans to continue his protest, “That’s a perfect example of what this is about. I think it’ll be very telling what happens with the officer that killed him.”