We ask professional athletes to use their stage to bring light to the issues of our world. We ask them to use their fame to influence the public. And once they do, we dismiss them, criticize them, threaten them and create conflict. So when people ask Cam Newton about being treated different cause he’s an African-American quarterback and he gives a simple, non-controversial response, I now understand why. Cam Newton doesn’t want or need the stress, and the criticism Colin Kaepernick has faced this season. And why should he? America is hypocritical. We ask for something and then complain when we get it, leaving our athletes questioning why they should use their platform, when they know what awaits them if they do.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. But if you threaten him and tell him to leave the country, you are the problem he is trying to address. Colin Kaepernick is peacefully protesting. He and now many other NFL players are raising the awareness of the racial discrimination that is sadly still in this country. And yet, we attack this protest with more criticism and racism.
When Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James called all athletes into action at the ESPY’s, we applauded them. We saw them rallying athletes to make a change and a difference and use their fame for a cause. But what we didn’t see is the message go in one ear and out the other of people across the country. So when Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand for the anthem, they criticized. And when players kneeled and raised fists, they criticized. If you want to see change, if you want to make the situation better, don’t let the people with influence turn a blind eye. Don’t make athletes feel as if they need to turn their back on the rest of society to protect themselves and their image. Instead, realize they are peacefully asking for change. I applaud the NFL for not fining these players and allowing them to exercise their freedom of expression. This time, Goodell got it right.
Cam Newton, I don’t blame you for not taking a stance when provoked. Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Marshall and others, thank you for using your stage, and raising awareness for something you believe in. I applaud you for taking a stand.