By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer
In the world of football, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots recently spoke out in support of former 49ers player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick who has recently been unable to find a team willing to sign him after dropping his contract in order to become a free agent after last season.
According to CBS Sports, Brady plainly supported Kaepernick, saying, “…he’s certainly qualified and I hope he gets a shot,” referring to the 2017 season.
Kaepernick stirred controversy that continues to this day by kneeling during the national anthem, rather than standing as is normal.
The former 49ers quarterback stated that he was engaging in an act of protest in order to draw attention to himself, and by extension to his concern about racial injustice in the U.S.
This tactic clearly worked, as over a year later it is still a hot topic in the media and in private life. Americans are strongly divided in their reaction to the protest with some asserting that the act was disrespectful and that it should not be tolerated.
On the other side of the issue, many people feel that the protest was justified and an acceptable use of free speech.
It is important to note that while free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, it is only protected by censure from the government.
Non-government entities such as the NFL are not bound to tolerate their employees’ free speech and are free to fire them if they want to, depending on state laws.
While it is very likely that Kaepernick is being kept from being hired based on his political opinions, there is a separate reason he is not on a team yet. The Baltimore Ravens were considering signing Kaepernick over the summer and even extended an offer to him that was later canceled.
Why? Kaepernick’s girlfriend had tweeted out that the owner of the Ravens was a racist, apparently comparing him to a slave owner.
President Trump had new input on the debate last week, urging for players who refuse to stand for the national anthem to be fired. Trump went further saying that fans should boycott sports games in which players don’t stand.
In response, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several NFL teams expressed support for players’ use of protest as free speech.
Who could have guessed that teams would disagree with a politician who not just tells them what to do, but who tells people to boycott them?
Teams have also gone beyond verbal disagreement, with the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and Pittsburgh Steelers, among others, refusing to participate in the national anthem entirely.
The Patriots participated in the national anthem, but several players locked arms including Tom Brady. These protests were greeted by the same kind of mixed reactions as the debate previously showed.
Combined with a separate row involving Stephen Curry of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors refusing to visit the White House, seems to represent further politicization of sports. Should politics extend into the realm of sports? How do you, the reader, feel about this?