It is wrong or even useless to neglect the role of the Internet and social media in everyday life. It is not just a tool to share the news but an opportunity to demonstrate personal attitudes and beliefs with no threat of being punished or judged. In the United States, the concept of democracy and the intentions to use publicity as a weapon has already spread through social media to a variety of fields, including marketing, economy, and sports.
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However, openness and accessibility should not always be considered as some positive aspects of a discussion, and many unpredictable and bad outcomes can be ignored. One of the frequently discussed news in social media is the decision of Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem thereby demonstrating his protest against the state regime and political negligence of duty. In this paper, I want to develop my belief about the action of Kaepernick as a chance to create a public opinion and gain the desired fame and certain economic benefits without even thinking about the consequences and threats to the country and its people.
While surfing the web to find out an interesting topic for discussion about the role of social media in modern life, many people can choose a case when a famous American football player, Colin Kaepernick, decided to kneel but not to stand during the US national anthem before the National Football League game. This situation causes various reactions, both positive and negative, as it is hard for a country with a multimillion population to come up with one single idea. In his protest, Kaepernick showed an example for many other players and public people how to focus on racial injustice, brutality, “police shooting and killing unarmed black men”, and no “prison time for pulling the trigger” (Mindock).
On the one hand, he proved that America is not perfect, and many issues remain unsolved, questioning the actions of politics and governmental bodies. On the other hand, he was chosen by the country to represent his state and play the game at the national level. This event has its standards, and he failed to follow the norms and broke the rules, questioning his professionalism and responsibilities.
Personal Intentions to Tell the Truth
Some people agree with the fact that Kaepernick refused to stand and demonstrated his concerns about the quality of life and rights Americans should have. I also believe that many people are challenged by the conditions under which they have to live. In the modern “polarized society”, “people on opposite sides of political questions are talking at each other but not to each other” (Wang and Siegel).
Still, it is always easy to criticize the actions of other people instead of analyzing personal decisions and actions. There is a need for a nation to unite from all perspectives, and it can hardly be achieved without clearly established rules and norms. Kaepernick was the one who neglected several national regulations to demonstrate his intentions, to tell the truth. Unfortunately, it is hard for me to support this choice just because he used the wrong place and the wrong time.
The NFC Championship Games are the result of the country’s development and the hard work of millions of people, including athletes, coaches, managers, and even builders. This event unites the representatives of different states or even countries as a symbol of American culture and prosperity. In today’s society, “disproportionate rates of minority contact are a longstanding problem that has neither been well understood nor effectively addressed” (Gase et al. 310).
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People can use different methods to demonstrate their opinions and support those who suffer from racial disparities and inequalities, and Kaepernick used not the best option that influenced his career, public attitudes, and a general image of American football. Instead, he could use his twits, social media sources, or even interviews to share his doubts and intentions and find a solution to the problem that bothers millions. I consider his kneeling is nothing but a demonstration of disrespect to the achievements made by his country and the people around him.
Public and Economic Benefits
To understand the worth of Kaepernick’s decision not to follow American norms and stand during the anthem, it is possible to observe his current career and gained opportunities. First reactions turned out to be negative with no safe future being promised. As a catalyst of that situation, Donald Trump proclaimed his wish for all NFL players to be fired for kneeling because “that guy that disrespects our flag” cannot become “the most popular person in this country” (Mindock).
At this moment, Kaepernick does not have a team and is defined as “a free agent, charged the league with collision after being passed over for hiring by various teams” with fewer NFL representatives endorsing such a controversial gesture (McDonald). One of his latest achievements is a contract with Nike Company to be a new face of its “Just Do It” campaign (Eriggo et al.). I define this cooperation as an effective economic move and a strong advertising method during which many people can discover new opportunities.
However, I can never accept the main idea of that campaign when they say to people “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” (Abad-Santos). I guess that this phrase was created by a rich or, at least, not a poor person with a roof under his/her head and some food in his/her fridge. These are the words of a person who has never experienced significant losses in this life or has never been dependent on other people. What does it mean to sacrifice everything? It means to be ready to live without money, disregard the already achieved success and progress, and neglect the laws of the country even it is not as perfect as they could be. Kaepernick’s actions created certain benefits for his career with Nike and could even increase his profits, as well as those of Nike.
Unfortunately, under this success and change, I also see how many people are ready to buy some Nike stuff to destroy it and show the process to the public. “That is the world we live in, and it crystallizes some specifics of how the internet outrage machine operates – and how Nike has already won” (Abad-Santos). Instead of solving the problem of racial inequality and police brutality, people start discussing the ethical aspects of Kaepernick’s decision and Nike’s support, visiting Nike’s official site, reading Kaepernick’s tweets, watching the news about this case, and even buying Nike’s products to burn them.
I say that the economic benefit has been achieved: those people who wanted to earn on that protest spend their free time on the beach, and those who burned their shoes to demonstrate their disrespect to Kaepernick and Nike continue their struggle against brutality and inequality, shoeless.
Finally, my investigation of the political aspect of Kaepernick’s case may contribute to the chosen discussion and the idea of how it is easy to betray the country and receive public support. The intention of one player to declare about unfair treatment of police officers to black people gave birth to several political and advertisement concerns. Still, as it was properly underlined by Thiessen, “what these players don’t seem to understand is that Americans gave their lives so that they could have the freedom to play a kid’s game for a living”.
Instead of appreciating this opportunity, they disrespect many things, including the flag, the history, and past sacrifices. Instead of protesting the president and his campaigns, they used the media to question the worth of the US culture. In a short period, athletes used their constitutional rights to offend the work of millions of Americans.
The current role of sport in society determines many people’s behaviors and political decisions. Therefore, it is expected that American sports should promote “adequate behavior of athletes during the performance of the national anthem”, and it is not a responsibility of players like Kaepernick to express their political views in “the context of professional sport” (Thiel et al. 253). Unfortunately, Kaepernick’s Effect is hard to control as it promotes new waves when students and players start kneeling to protest the treatment of the black population, giving a platform for new social and political activities (McNeal 148).
Weffer et al. admit that more than 200 players supported the protests and showed their solidarity the next week after Kaepernick was fired (67). The task of those athletes is to play and develop their professional skills while being funded by the government. Having no respect towards the rules, the President, and the country is an outcome that offense millions of people who believe in sport and freedom. I want to live in a country where people visit games to enjoy the show but not to think about inequalities and problems.
To conclude, I want to say that the protest developed by Kaepernick several years ago continues influencing my current political and ethical positions. Today, America is challenged by a variety of internal and external problems, unstable international relationships, and social concerns. There are groups of people who aim at discussing these issues and offering solutions that can help. Athletes and celebrities should not place their social opinions and discontent before their direct duties, including playing sports games according to the already established rules, entertaining the population, and being good examples for children and the youth.
The move of Colin Kaepernick has its trace in American history and gains new motives using the Internet and social media sources. Instead of forgetting about a possible wrong opinion of one individual, millions of people demonstrate their attitudes towards that situation and contribute to some change without even having an idea of how to achieve certain improvements. At this moment, I can surely say that the richness of American history and culture should not be lost or misunderstood because of one man, wrongly believing in the appropriateness of his gesture.
Abad-Santos, Alex. “Why the Social Media Boycott Over Colin Kaepernick Is a Win for Nike.” Vox. 2018. Web.
Eriggo, Michael, et al. “Colin Kaepernick to Star in Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ Campaign.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.
Gase, Lauren N., et al. “Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Arrest: The Role of Individual, Home, School, and Community Characteristics.” Race and Social Problems, vol. 8, no. 4, 2016, pp. 296-312.
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McDonald, Caroline. “Can Employees Be Fired for Political Action?” Risk Management. 2017. Web.
McNeal, Laura Rene. “From Hoodies to Kneeling During the National Anthem: The Colin Kaepernick Effect and Its Implications for K-12 Sports.” Louisiana Law Review, vol. 78, no. 1, 2018, 146-196.
Mindock, Clark. “Taking a Knee: Why are NFL Players Protesting and When Did They Start to Kneel?” The Independent. 2018. Web.
Thiel, Ansgar et al. “Can Sport Be ‘Un-Political’?”. European Journal for Sport and Society, vol. 13, no. 4, 2016, 253-255.
Thiessen, Marc A. “Disrespecting the Flag is a Disgraceful Way to Protest Trump.”. 2017. Web.
Wang, Amy B., and Rachel Siegel. “Trump: Nike ‘Getting Absolutely Killed’ With Boycotts over Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Just Do It’ Campaign.” The Washington Post. 2018. Web.
Weffer, Simón E., et al. “Taking a Knee.” Contexts, vol. 17, no. 3, 2018, pp. 66-68.