San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's gesture during the national anthem is getting a lot of attention lately and has even created a social chasm between those who stand behind him and those who feel slighted by the action.
Some of the critics claim that Kaepernick's antics during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" somehow shows contempt to the US military. On the one hand, those who approve of him and his means are lauding him for his non-violent form of protest against police brutality and shootings of Black people.
Kaepernick is Not Alone
More and more athletes have chosen to take similar actions as the 49ers field general. In the NFL, several players showed support by either kneeling or raising their arms.
The list includes Kaepernick's teammates Eric Reid, Eli Harold, Jaquiski Tartt, Antoine Bethea, Rashard Robinson and Keith Reaser. Some players from Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, the Redskins, Raiders, Seahawks, Titans, Colts, and Dolphins were also in protest.
In the NBA, some of the players and notable personalities around the league have also expressed their support as early as the preseason games. The Toronto Raptors stood with their arms locked in their first game ahead of the regular season.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that as long as it's a peaceful means of getting your message across, he's all for it. While Kerr expects more to follow suit come the regular season, there are those who have aired their support, but decided to stand during the national anthem like LeBron James and Steph Curry.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich that he respects the courage of Kaepernick and others, while Clippers braintrust Doc Rivers believes that such protests are the most patriotic thing that Americans can do. Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban said he won't mind if his players go on protest as long as they can back their actions.
The ladies of the hardcourt have also shown their solidarity on the campaign. The entire roster of the Indiana Fever of the WNBA knelt down in their game against Phoenix.
Finding the Gray Area Amid the Polarizing Issue
For his part, Keith Reaser of the 49ers said that he opted to raise his one arm instead of getting down on one knee because, that way, he was able to show support without going against anyone. Reaser said that there is also the need to strive for unity.
Meanwhile, President Obama asked for more understanding from both sides. And, he puts it best when it comes to the importance of agreeing to disagree.
"The test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it's easy, but when it's hard," the President said. "We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with, but that's what freedom means in this country."