Tip to Kap

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Kudos to Colin Kaepernick for using his national spotlight to protest social injustice and systematic racism. In case you’ve been under a rock, Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback and graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, refused to stand during the national anthem before a game on Aug. 26.

When asked about it later, he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.”

Reaction to Kap’s protest action was, not surprisingly, vitriolic. Responses on social media and from conservative commentators and even other athletes has ranged from those who said things like politics has no place in professional sports—like football fans need more blinders—to those who think that the lack of compulsory attention to an old song is tantamount to high treason. (To be fair, this is sort of how I feel when people talk while “Born to Run” is on the radio.) Some of the responses were just plain racist, and others accused Kap of crying for attention because he isn’t as good as he was a few years ago when he led the Niners to the Super Bowl.

I never met Kap when he was at UNR, but from people I know who did know him, he apparently never seemed like the most enlightened guy—far from it, in fact. He now seems like a changed man. He has a bit of a scales-have-fallen-from-my-eyes look in recent interviews—like somebody took him out to the desert and gave him mescaline.

Anyway, the guy had to be fully aware of the negative reaction his protest would inspire, and he did it anyway. And incurring the wrath of meatheads for the sake of oppressed people—protesting in order to improve our country—sounds pretty patriotic to me. And now I have to have respect for a guy whose signature move is to kiss his own bicep.

Brad Bynum