Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for National Anthem. But he stands for much more.

Whether you feel he’s right or wrong, kudos to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for (not) standing in his beliefs.

download (1)Before Friday night’s preseason game at Levi Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, the National Anthem was played. Just like it is before every other NFL game. Just like every other professional sporting event in this country.

One thing stood out though. The man not standing.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in protest, declined to stand for the National Anthem. And, as expected, his decision has been the source of major uproar within and beyond the sports community.

“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 told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He did so knowing that there would be backlash from fans, media and the NFL itself. However, Kaepernick sat… defiant. In the genuine belief that his figurative stance spoke volumes more than the countless literal stances he’s made during the anthem throughout his career.

Whether you agree (like myself) with Kaepernick’s feelings and/or decision or not, the man deserves credit for taking firm action in what he truly believes. In the face of criticism. With the very real possibility that  lose sponsors as a result.

Throngs of people are asking why a millionaire athlete would dare have those feelings toward the flag that represents the United States of America. Even deeper, folks will ask why Kaepernick decided to act on that feeling. There are only two reasons people ask “why?”. Either out of genuine curiosity or out of  judgment. The vast majority of those questions are certainly not out of curiosity.

Kaepernick will be judged by many and disgraced by some. But truly, at the end of the day, he deserves the opportunity to color outside the lines of what the masses tells us is right. He should not be made quiet by the fact that he’s successful.

In this day of athletes being so brand conscious that it’s rare to behold a big name athlete taking a stand on anything of substance with real consequences. With the last athlete in a major professional sport who refused to stand for the anthem, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, suspended by the NBA two decades ago, Kaepernick knows his stake will be judged critically and possibly harshly.

What many won’t get from Kaepernick’s decision is that it symbolizes the fed up condition of a people that have been asking for permission and falling in line for far too long in this country. Folks will tell Kaepernick that he should go about it in a way that doesn’t ruffle the feathers of those who offend minorities on the daily. They’ll tell him to hush and toe the company line just because he makes millions. Many of those same people mourned when global icon, Muhammad Ali, passed away earlier this year. How? It is this level of inconsistent support from those that condemn those of us who speak out in the moment which creates most of the frustration.

Well, here’s applause to a man standing… or sitting… firm in his beliefs.

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