Colin Kaerpernick’s decision to kneel, in contrast with some NFL fans’ opinion to stand in honor of the Star-Spangled Banner, has taken over the 2017-2018 NFL conversation. During this time of year, fans are usually discussing NFL pre-season games, rosters, etc., but due to controversy, many in the African American community are torn or have simply said boycott while Kaepernick remains unsigned.
The NFL stands to lose millions of dollars with NFL fans from all backgrounds and ethnicities speaking out for Kaepernick’s right of freedom of speech and bringing attention to an unspoken spirit of racism woven in American history through national anthems, monuments and leadership. While the nation is consumed by racial division and discussion, the Kaepernick protests have spread beyond football, drawing more people not associated with the sport to speak out and join the protest.
While protests continue to increase, Kaepernick remains steadfast in his activism and passion for the sport of football. He tweeted within one hour, ways to help the Houston Texans, and even retweeted a picture of him in an Atlanta Falcons Jersey.
From Los Angeles to New York and all in between, protests and NFL boycotts have gone from small groups to thousands standing in support of Kapernick. Tamiko Mallory of the Women’s March Movement, gave a viral speech when she stated, “I don’t care how long you’ve been watching football—if they don’t stand up for your children, turn the damn TV off.” She also state “Don’t let them tell you we are out here for one man, we didn’t come out here today for one man; he didn’t just kneel for himself.”
Kaepernick’s fraternity brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. recently sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell stating, “Unfortunately, we are concerned that without a clear and unmistakable signal from the League office that an equitable resolution to Mr. Kaepernick’s plight must come quickly, the growing public calls for boycotts of NFL Games, the NFL Network, League merchandise, and league sponsors will become louder and bolder.” Locally the fraternity recently joined National Action Network K.W. Tullous at a local protest. The National Action Network Los Angeles is leading the organizing protest on the West Coast.
Celebrities are joining in too, to support Kaepernick including Spike Lee protesting in front of NFL headquarters in New York, Cardi B declaring support at the MTV Awards, Dave Chappelle showed his support through a T-Shirt to NFL players including Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch opting to sit during the playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
A recent Sports Business Journal and Fox Sports executive pointed that Kaepernick’s national anthem protest had no negative impact on viewership last season. Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports executive vice president of research, league operations and strategy, cited coverage of the presidential election as the top factor in fewer people choosing to tune into football on a regular basis than in previous years and that trend is expected to continue this season. That mixed with Kaepernick not being signed could really affect the upcoming NFL season ratings.
The next Los Angeles protest is scheduled for the first Los Angeles Rams game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, September 10 at 11 a.m.