BY MARISA GOGLIA
As Americans are we standing tall or sitting down? In sports there is a camaraderie amongst teammates. Players who come together, work toward the common goal of winning the game for thousands of adoring fans. However, recent events have caused a divide in the locker room.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in protest. Kaepernick cites a misconduct against African Americans and minorities within the United States, according to NFL.com. This is no longer becoming a trend, but a movement. It is gaining momentum and igniting debatable conversations from the basketball court to the Cohen Cafeteria at County College of Morris.
Kaepernick later defended his decision to protest with a statement on NFL.com. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Jack Sullivan, athletic director of CCM, points out this type of protest is not something new, noting the 1968 Olympics. According to TIME, two African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on top of the medal podium with their heads bowed, and raised black gloved fists. Both men who were track and field hall of famers, were suspended from the U.S. team. Unfortunately, their protest was not as well received as Kaepernick’s.
“Politics is very difficult,” Sullivan said. “There’s been many unfortunate incidents that have happened in our country that is causing a divide. It’s sad to think in 2016 we would be going in different directions, as opposed to coming closer together.”
For CCM’s home basketball games, the national anthem is played. If a student were to kneel, Sullivan said he would like to know the reason behind it.
“Students have the right, and I’m not the person that’s going to deny a student’s right to do what they want,” Sullivan said. “I would like to find out what their rationale is, the message they’re trying to send is. I would like to educate myself. I wouldn’t haphazardly say this will not happen, it’s not a dictatorship. I have my opinions and everyone has their own opinions, and that’s under the flag we have and fly under, We have that right, it’s not easy, you can disagree, that’s what America is. People have that right of freedom of speech. I’m not going to debate that.”
In recent weeks athletes have stood in solidarity with Kaepernick from the Miami Dolphins to U.S. national women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe knelt during the United States national anthem, but stood for Thailand because the country offers no First Amendment protections to its people, according to breitbart.com.
“I don’t want to kneel forever,” Kaepernick said, according to USA today. “I want these things to change. I do know it will be a process, and it is not something that will change overnight. But, I think there are some major changes that we can make that are reasonable.”
The first change Kaepernick made was to donate to his own cause. Kaepernick is donating his first $1 million this season to organizations who are combating against the issues he cares deeply about. The next day Kaepernick stepped up his offer saying he will donate $1 million of all his jersey sales to this cause.