I enjoy watching a ballgame as much as anyone else, but one thing I don’t expect is political statements of any sort from professional athletes.
Either they’re so wrapped up in the minutia of the game itself, or else they’re so tied into the establishment that regards their acts as “heroic” that they’re openly critical of anyone who would think of being critical of our society.
HECK, THE KIND of “statement” usually made by professional athletes is something along the line of the Chicago Cubs, who recently made a point of wearing “onesies” in public. Cutesy, colorful and gaudy pajamas.
The sight was meant to give us a chuckle, and that’s it.
So it is in that context that someone like Colin Kaepernick comes off as unusual. The quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers is making a point of refusing to participate at the beginning of games when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played.
While many fans sing along with the awkward anthem very poorly and most ballplayers do a poor imitation of a military-style stand-at-attention, Kaepernick sits. Which he may well do come Dec. 4 when the 49ers take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
HE SAYS IT is meant to be a protest against what he sees as a tolerance by some in our society for racial inequality. Which, of course, offends the bigots amongst us because they want to believe their constitutional right to look down on other people is somehow being trampled upon by his parking of his kiester.
You go to various social media sites, and you’ll find some people now willing to trash Kaepernick for using his status in life to make such a statement. Although I suspect if he were to keep his mouth shut, or spew off conservative ideological nonsense like one-time Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling (with his dreams of challenging “President Hillary Clinton” in 2020), they’d be praising him.
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I have to confess that I always found it ridiculous that the national anthem kicks off ballgames, as though you’re trying to turn a sporting event into a political rally. I realize it is a tradition going back to the days of the Second World War. But let’s face reality.
War’s over. We won. Let’s move on, already.
I DON’T SEE that the anthem’s being performed really adds much to the ambiance of a ballgame – which already comes across as gaudy enough when you think about the sight and sound of pudgy, out-of-shape people wearing replica jerseys so they can fantasize they could have warranted a place on the playing field.
Add to it the fact that they’re now singing an awkward song that they probably don’t really know the words to, and they’re doing it out of key?
Regardless of what one thinks about the issue of racial equality in our society, you have to admit the way we treat the anthem (as though it is a prelude to chants of “Go team, Go” and “Packers suck” if you’re at Soldier Field) is rather disrespectful to the image we’d like to have of our nation.
So what should we really think of Kaepernick and his insistence on sitting his behind on the bench during the national anthem ritual? I don’t want to blow it out of proportion. Because as far as political statements go, he’s really doing nothing.
IT’S THE INSISTENCE of certain ideologically tainted people in our society (the kind who want to demand total allegiance to themselves in a way that is un-American, if you think about it) who would make an issue of his preference to sit.
The kind of people who would prefer to ignore racial inequality and would try to argue that drawing attention to it is the real act of a racist. Similar to how Donald Trump these days is trying to take votes from Clinton come Election Day – because the last thing he really wants is to have black people voting for him in significant numbers.
Because that would scare off many of the white voters whom he’s counting on to be his voter base on Nov. 8.
And they’ll probably insist on using the national anthem as part of their own rituals to try to justify their own fantasies of a nation that puts their interests over all others.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I also wonder about government meetings that begin with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Nothing wrong with the pledge itself, but how often have government officials recited the ditty as a praise of our democratic ideals, then went ahead and committed acts that deliberately ignored the public interest?