It all started in August 2016, when Colin Kaepernick raised eyebrows as he knelt during the National Anthem prior to a preseason game and claimed that he was trying to be seen as a revolutionary, but now, eyebrows are still raised, the former San Francisco 49er’s career is in jeopardy, and the tune that is as American as it gets has been placed in the middle of a divided country.
But like with any other controversy, each side believes that the other’s argument is invalid, and Kaepernick has complicated things more and more since that August night. He fueled the idea that this was about the Star Spangled Banner right from the start, as 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,” in a press conference after kneeling during the Anthem for the first time.
Shortly after saying that, he found himself jobless, meaning that he was going to have to sacrifice millions of dollars and the game he loved if he was going to continue to voice his opinion, and time would tell that he valued advocacy over football.
There’s nothing wrong with that mindset if that’s where his heart lies, however he never owned up to it and has continuously led the crowd that adamantly believes that he is being “blackmailed” by NFL owners.
And going into the third season of the saga, Kaepernick threw another rock in the water so we wouldn’t forget about him. Instead of letting the dust continue to settle and allowing the actual season to dominate the headlines, he signed a deal with Nike and immediately created an advertisement with the message that he wants to get across.
Although Nike is the one receiving the criticism, it doesn’t deserve it. Kaepernick does.
You have to remember Nike, being the strong, smart company it is, knows this is great opportunity that they can’t let go. I get those who are arguing politics complicate things and shouldn’t be mixed with business, but I also know this will benefit the brand more than it will harm it.
Yes, it will divide its current consumers into two groups, one that will be supportive of the decision and another that will be completely against it, and some naysayers are going to end their relationship with the company, but chances are most will just ignore it and continue to flood the powerhouse with money.
And then those who have supported Kaepernick all along are going to purchase the merchandise from Nike. It may sound crazy to purchase apparel for this, but people had no problem buying shirts and hats that said “Make America Great Again,” so people will definitely spend money on this.
Plus, it’s free publicity and people are talking about Nike as a brand. What more can a company ask for?
On the other hand, this really hurts Kaepernick’s legacy. Before this, it was difficult to question how passionate he was about what he was advocating for, as it seemed that he was willing to sacrifice his football career in order to accomplish his goals.
Part of this had to do with money. Continuing to advocate and ignoring the criticism meant that he wasn’t going to be a star NFL quarterback he once was, and he showed that he was at peace with that, and people loved it.
Now, that’s gone. Instead of keeping a low profile by continuing to donate money to help his dreams become a reality like many other athletes do, he took money and signed a contract so he can make money off of advocating for what he believes.
I’m not saying that he is solely doing this for money, because I do think he wants to be a revolutionary, but what I am saying is it’s difficult to make a case for how passionate he is about this now that money is involved.