Thanks to the First Amendment, outspoken free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the ability to “speak freely.”
However, when you are an employee of a company, perhaps you need to take a measured approach to your activism, so you don’t turn off millions of customers, and in this case ticket buyers and TV viewers.
Kaepernick, who kneeled during the national anthem last year to protest a country “that oppresses black people and people of color,” is having a hard time finding an NFL job in 2017.
Part of it might be his poor play the last two years for the San Francisco 49ers; another part could be related to how his actions turned off a myriad NFL fans.
Recently, pollster J.D. Power surveyed 9,200 people who attend sporting events, and 26 percent said they watched less games last year due to national anthem protests.
Jets veteran running back Matt Forte believes player protest is okay, but “there is a time and place” for it.
“As far as guy like Colin, he believes in something, he believes there is an injustice in the world that is going on,” Forte said. “He took a stand for it. There is a time and place for those things as well, and a way to go about it to get your vision heard.”
Thanks to the First Amendment, you also have the freedom to protest in this country.
Though, disrespecting the flag by kneeling during the national anthem might not be the best way to go. This turned off a lot of patriotic Americans and military members, and hurt the NFL’s business.
Perhaps wearing socks with pigs dressed up as policemen isn’t the way to go?
Maybe wearing a shirt with mass murderer Fidel Castro on it isn’t the way to go?
Yet, there are all things Kaepernick did at various times last year.
“Everybody is a role model whether you want to be, or don’t want to be,” Forte said. “You are either a good role model or bad role model. When you come into the league, the spotlight is on you. You aren’t just representing yourself, but your team. You aren’t just a player, you are representing something bigger.”
Kaepernick started his anthem kneeling to protest several police shootings of black suspects.
“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick told the NFL Network last August.
It’s unclear who got away with murder, it certainly wasn’t Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who was cleared of all wrong-doing in the shooting of Michael Brown.
But if you want to improve relations between the police and the black community, there might be better ways to go about it, aside from pig socks, Castro shirts and anthem kneeling.
Do what Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins did last November, ride along with the Philadelphia police to see the difficulty of their job first-hand.
Or go to Washington D.C. to talk to members of congress about police/race relations like NFL players Anquan Boldin, Glover Quin, Andrew Hawkins and Josh McCown did, also last November.
There are ways for NFL players to effect positive change without turning off millions of fans.
“[Players] understand the stage they are on,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “I do believe they can have a huge influence in their communities. In fact, we saw it last year. A number of players went out into the communities, they worked with law enforcement. They had discussions about differences and trying to bring communities together. I believe [players] can play that role. I always like to say internally ‘it goes from protest to progress.’ What you want is progress, and these guys can be part of that progress, because they are reaching out to communities and they are saying, ‘I’m concerned about this – how do we get better.’ That is what makes the world better – these guys can play that role.”