Colin Kapernick: American Hero or Villian?

America has always prided itself on its insistence on freedom and each individual’s right to this liberty. While some groups had to fight and protest to be considered worthy of these privileges, other citizens of America have enjoyed these constitutional rights, including the freedom of speech and the right to protest and stand up for a greater good. While the average citizen can take these stands without incident, when someone of the magnitude of celebrity that Colin Kapernick has takes a stand it is often noted and debated about. There is no doubt that this is newsworthy, however, it is being blown out of proportion. The words “rebel” and “thug” are being thrown around which is completely unfair. Kapernick is embodying everything that is American and he should be treated as such.

When people oppose Kapernick and other celebrities and athletes who have taken similar stands, they often do so on the grounds that these people are role models. Despite how they feel personally, they should not let it show to the public because it is bigger than them. They have to think about the kids watching them and behave in a politically correct manner at all times. This stance makes sense, but only if the goal is to raise kids to be robotic “Yes men” who take everything at face value and never form their own opinions. Kapernick is a role model because he is making a statement that when he doesn’t believe something is right, he is willing to risk losing it all to make his voice heard. This is something that should be modeled after and emulated in the youth nationwide. I think athletes are already looked upon with a microscope. Just because someone is good at basketball does not mean they should inherently become someone your son should emulate. Some ball players are great people and some are terrible people that are not fit to be role models. Just like in any other profession, everyone is an individual and to expect everyone to act the same exact way to fit an agenda is extremely inauthentic. Perhaps parents should educate their children more on why Kapernick is doing what he is doing. The conversation should be catered more toward the issues than the act of sitting itself.

I would like to make clear that my argument is not in support or against Kapernick sitting down during the national anthem. I may not agree with his act of sitting but I agree with his right to sit. He has the right to sit down just like everyone else and he should not be treated like anything less than an American. We should be proud that our country allows silent, non violent stands such as this because in other countries this would be punishable by imprisonment or worse. One thing I have respected about Kapernick is that he has backed up his stance with powerful words when facing extreme pressure by the media. While there are plenty of people who are only politically conscious when its convenient and can only back their political stance up with vague statements, Kapernick addressed the exact issues that led to him refusing to stand up. These are issues that have been spoken of on news panels and radio shows across the country, but with a starting National Football League (NFL) quarterback speaking out on them, somehow they seem fresh and relevant again. They are being debated and researched all over again and it has even reached President Obama’s desk who says he supports Kapernick’s right to protest.
The media has been reporting on Kapernick’s antics nonstop and for good reason. There should be a national conversation about it because of its social significance. Instead of him being shown in a negative light though, he should be shown as a positive figure. The stand that he has taken has already sparked a movement as other athletes are joining in and taking sides. Whether you argue that he should stand or not, you should not argue about whether he has the right to. Hopefully, other athletes will exercise their rights more often to ensure that their voices and beliefs are heard.