The player who started a protest
There is more than one way to stand up for something.
When Colin Kaepernick was in the US equivalent of Year 5, he predicted he would grow to be 1.93 metres tall, attend university and then play American football for one of his two favourite teams. He was right on all counts. However, he could never have predicted the influence he would later have on the country.
He became a star player at the University of Nevada, and in 2011 he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) after graduation. A year later he led the team to the Super Bowl, the sport’s championship, where they lost a thrilling game 34-31.
In 2016, Kaepernick decided he would either sit down or drop to one knee during the traditional pre-game singing of the US national anthem. His decision was made at a time when videos were being posted online of the police treating black people unfairly. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” he said.
Many people felt that his actions were disrespectful. However, some fellow players followed his example. When the season ended, Kaepernick’s contract wasn’t renewed and he was left without a team to play for.
Last week, President Trump insulted players who kneel during the US national anthem, and said protesters should be sacked. US sports stars were furious, and on 24 September more than 200 players refused to stand for the anthem. The week before, there were only six.
Kaepernick may not be on the field right now, but his spirit of defiance and commitment to equality is becoming a national movement.
Colin Kaepernick protested during the US national anthem.