BLOG: Sports media shouldn't reward Colin Kaepernick for his disrespect toward America and the flag

Posted at 6:07 PM, Aug 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-28 21:07:32-04

When a fan storms the field during an NFL game, the media make sure to not show that fan's face on television. After all, the knucklehead shouldn't be rewarded for bad behavior.

It's understandable but still disheartening that the media have chosen not to apply that same standard to Colin Kaepernick -- and some have gone as far as to label the 49ers quarterback as brave and noble after he sat during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before Friday's preseason game.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said after the game.

For his actions and words, Kaepernick has dominated media headlines since Friday night. In that regard, the 28-year-old's mission has already been accomplished.

If you care, here’s my take: Kaepernick obviously has the right to sit during the anthem, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of his words after the game. But like ABC15 sports director Craig Fouhy said: There are more tasteful ways to advance your cause.

Kaepernick has a commendable history of charity work. He spearheads Camp Taylor, which raises funds for children suffering from heart disease. In June, he helped raise nearly $1 million by hosting a golf tournament for that charity.

Wouldn't that have been the better path here? Kaepernick could have followed in the footsteps of Michael Jordan,who responded to the recent wave of police violence by making significant donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Institute for Community-Police Relations.

Kaepernick could have made a donation to a number of charities that assist victims of gun violence, or to those that provide collegiate scholarships to African-Americans. He could have hosted a football camp for low-income minority children. 

But instead of doing something that makes a real difference in the lives of those he says are disenfranchised, Kaepernick opted to make his point in a self-serving and, frankly, lazy manner -- a manner that drew plenty of attention to himself but did absolutely nothing to improve the lives of those he claims to advocate for. 

Kaepernick has been successful, however, in generating an enormous amount of media buzz – which is, of course, why he chose the route he did. Many of my colleagues correctly noted Kaepernick has the constitutional right to sit during the anthem -- but some have gone beyond that to sympathize with and even endorse that decision.

Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer questioned the timing of Kaepernick's protest but suggested his actions were courageous, writing he "deserves respect for what he did, because he was fully aware of the football-related consequences when he did it."

Tim Kawakami at echoed those sentiments. "It took guts for him to do this; I don't agree with all of it, but it sure took guts," he wrote.

"Instead of asking him to shut up, we should question him more," Yahoo!'s Eric Adelson wrote,adding we should take time to learn Kaepernick's thoughts on gun control, as well.

All of these commentaries are worth a read, and the men who wrote them are all far more accomplished in their field than I am. But to suggest there's any nobility or courage in sitting lazily on a bench during the national anthem, regardless of the motive, is a stretch, at best. And as long as Kaepernick continues to use this dishonorable tactic to advance his cause -- which he said he intends to do -- we media members shouldn't help him advance his cause by "questioning him more."

Does the United States have its shortcomings? Of course. But this isn’t really a discussion about America; it’s about displaying a basic amount of respect for the flag of the nation you live in -- where the fans (including active military members and veterans) who pay your salary reside.

As NBC's Jason Page wrote, the flag "isn't only emblematic of our law enforcement community or government. It's also representative of the man or woman who lives next door to you and volunteers at a soup kitchen ... It stands for the volunteers who will spend the foreseeable future in that same community helping those in need."

Page also rightly defended Kaepernick's right to free expression, as the American flag stands for that right above all else. But any moral defense of the QB should end there.

Nearly 3,000 athletes stood for the national anthem during this week’s slate of NFL preseason games. No doubt all of those athletes have personal beliefs and causes they're passionate about. Kaepernick is not special in that regard, and as such, he should not receive special treatment by the media for his poor behavior.

Kaepernick’s action, or lack thereof, on Friday was no better than a fan trying to make a spectacle of himself by rushing the field during a game. But instead of turning the camera away, some media members have willingly given Kaepernick the spotlight.

That spotlight should be kept on Jordan and others who are making a real, measurable difference, and are doing so without disrespecting the flag of the nation they seek to change.