The Kaepernick Effect on Kids

Michael P. Ramirez latest cartoon encapsulates the feelings of many. As Kaepernick remains defiantly sitting during the National Anthem, he is surrounded by those who fought for his right to sit. And yet next to him appears a little girl turning her back.

Whatever your thoughts are about Colin Kaepernick, he has people talking. From ESPN’s commentators calling him courageous to fans saying they refuse to further attend games and finance his wealthy lifestyle. People are angry, some feeling he has added gasoline to the growing bonfire that is America’s racial divide.

For those who dismiss Kaepernick as simply another spoiled athlete who doesn’t realize his hypocrisy, they may be underestimating the impact players like him have on our youth.

To quote Dr. Cyril Wecht (played by Albert Brooks in the film Concussion): “The NFL is a corporation that has 20 million people on a weekly basis craving their product, the same way they crave food. The NFL owns a day of the week. The same day the Church used to own! Now it’s theirs. They’re very big.”

As a Father of two athletic sons, I wanted to get the opinion of my 16 year old who is working toward a career in Sports Journalism. (He already has his own weekly sports report on terrestrial radio).

“I agree with the cause, but not the action. There is definitely a difference between how black’s and white’s are treated by law enforcement, but there’s a hundred different ways for Kaepernick to bring attention to this cause. So for 9-10 year olds who play football in San Francisco, this effects how they think because they idolize their quarterback. It may make them more likely to speak their mind. He (Kaepernick) has done this without throwing punches. It would likely lead to kids speaking out. If kids start acting out and they have a weak coach, you may have entire groups of kids sitting out National Anthems. This may impact sports for a long time.”

This begs the question: how will adults in coaching positions deal with kids when they join together in open defiance. Without discipline and structure, what happens to sports?


Don’t be afraid to see what you see. – Ronald Reagan

  • Liz Dunn

    I’d also like to add that Michael Jordan most assiduously refrained from discussing politics although his personal hero, Dean Smith, was quite vocal on many social issues. Jordan and his super agent David Falk certainly understood the importance of separating his public image from the private.

    Who knows what causes and organizations Jordan contributed to?

    And that is exactly how it should be.

  • Liz Dunn

    Loved this post and as a bona fide NFL fan, I can only respond that these privileged athletes need to understand that an employee must separate work from politics. I worked in corporate America for 15 years and kept my opinions to myself.

    I was paid to make the donuts. Period.

    NFL owners have every right to restrict players from engaging in political antics that affect consumer sales.

    • Thanks Liz! This was written a year ago before becoming a cultural event. Instead of highlighting the often erroneous reports of police brutality on black youth (hispanics and whites have higher instances of such events) if kneeling players decided to focus the attention to the catalyst for inner city violence showing outrage toward absentee Fathers, corrup teacher unions not allowing inner city school choice and generational welfare in cities owned by Democrats, then maybe their concerns would be taken more seriously. In addition, raise these issues at a time we are not all one, saluting the flag which so many have sacrificed their lives for.

      • Liz Dunn

        Excellent points all.

        As an addendum, NFL players are free to make any kind of political statement on their own time as was I during my corporate tenure. As a NYC exec who contributed to the dreaded Heritage Foundation, AEI, and Cato, I kept it to myself from 8-6.
        Gloves off after that. 🙂

  • Kurt Thomas

    Kaepernick is a privileged white man with a few drops of black blood. That he has chosen to identify as black and direct his energies toward helping young boys of color avoid the paths that led to the terrible deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and so many others is admirable, if sincere, but do you really think he can identify with inner city youths or young black males being shot? Generally, people who protest have an invested interest in the cause. I don’t agree with his manner of protest, but he has captured attention and can now use that as a springboard for things that will truly make a difference. It takes great courage to go public in sports organizations when the push is to be non-controversial and to appeal to a pretty traditional fan base. Patriotism should not be a shield to facing the grim realities and racism that millions of Native Americans, Blacks, Latinos, and “others” experience in our country. Patriotism should be a call to decrease inequity, right wrongs, and promote safety and guarantee the ability of every person to live a life of liberty. It’s shameful what patriotism has come to represent in America.