Colin Kaepernick is no First Amendment hero

Like many people, President Obama had a knee-jerk reaction to Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem at San Francisco 49ers games.  The president said the lad was merely "exercising his constitutional right."  A closer look at Colin Kaepernick's failure to respect the symbol of his country shows that the First Amendment doesn't apply to his behavior. 

Kaepernick was not on the field as an individual.  He was representing the team he willingly chose to be part of; he was being paid to be there as part of the team.  He was also representing the sport and the country.  The image of the NFL is carefully cultivated at great expense.  It is an image that has a high quotient of patriotism.  He is a small cog in a big expensive wheel. 

Kaepernick is certainly treated with respect for his beliefs.  Do members of the team or the audience turn their backs on him because his heavily tattooed body is dripping in Christian scripture?  No, they don't, because he is part of the team.  He is there as an athlete.   I'm sure Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists have all cheered for him in the past.  In this venue, at least, he has not been an object of discrimination.

Consider this:

  •     Does a soldier in a military parade have a right to march backward?
  •     Does a member of the Olympic synchronized swim team have a right to come up for air early?
  •     Does a professional hockey goalie have the right to wear a tutu for the game?

Not when they are plying their trade as a team member.  If Kaepernick wanted to object as an individual, he could have played the anthem outside his house and sat defiantly on his porch.  Of course, no one would see him, and no one would care.  He could have written an article for the paper, or asked for an interview to speak his mind, or spoken at a rally.  Instead, he took it upon himself to use a venue for his protest that was the result of a lot of expense and hard work by many, many others – a venue he is lucky to be a part of.

When you consider the interests of the leadership and financiers of the NFL, Kaepernick's selfish display was tantamount to shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater in that it would cause uncontrolled chaos for them.  It would surely encourage other players to do the same thing and involve the NFL in some very messy politics.  Sure enough, Seattle defensive back Jeremy Lane and Megan Rapinoe, one of America’s most prominent soccer players, have made similar disrespectful gestures in support of Kaepernick.  Now the police don't want to work security at the 49ers games, and the team's showy entry to the playing field is marred with boos for the backup quarterback.  If this keeps up, season tickets will start falling by the wayside.

Why would a professional football player express his heartfelt sentiments in this way?  Well, when the guy next door first told me about this, he said, "Five bucks says he's got a radical girlfriend."  It appears my neighbor was right.  Here's an excerpt from a Fox News report.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s conversion to social activism coincided with his romancing of a hip hop DJ of Egyptian descent who has frequently spoken about perceived racial injustices and 'Islamaphobia' in the U.S.

This is not good enough to justify his conduct.  We get plenty of politics in our media; we do not need to be lectured by a guy who has no respect for his team, his sport, or his country.  Neither our Sunday afternoon relaxation time nor the NFL's image is a resource for infantile millionaire athletes to exploit – the Constitution has nothing to do with it.

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