Constitutional Rights Belong in Sports

Kaepernick Files Charges Against NFL and Seeks Employment

By: Anthony Russo

Kaepernick kneeling alongside a teammate. (Credit: fivethirtyeight.com)

Just before the commencement of the 2016 NFL regular season, Colin Kaepernick knelt down for the national anthem, which drew much controversy from the world.

Kaepernick kneeled in protest of the ongoing issues in America pertaining to police brutality, oppression and other social issues.

Many critics have labeled Kaepernick of being un-American and disrespectful to his country and military. But is Kaepernick actually disrespecting anything?

“I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people,” said Kaepernick in a media session on Sunday August 28,  2016.

“They fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they have fought for”.

Kaepernick’s intention wasn’t to disrespect the flag, the country and those who have fought for the country, but to bring attention and conversation to the social injustices in the United States.

There’s nothing unconstitutional about Kaerpernick’s actions, in fact, part of the first amendment of the Constitution, “freedom to assemble” supports his right to peacefully protest.

Yes, there are other ways to “peacefully protest”, but what better way to get your message across than in front of a large audience on national television?

Kaepernick’s message did start a ripple effect across the NFL immediately after he knelt for the first time during the national anthem.

Eventually, players across the league followed in support of Kaepernick.

Kaepernick stayed in this position along with players who joined him for the national anthem for the remainder of the 2016 season.

Since the ending of the 2016 season, Kaepernick has remained jobless because of his protest.

Kaepernick in his NFL career has four career playoff wins and one super bowl appearance, while finishing his 2016 campaign with completing nearly sixty-percent of his passes and sixteen touchdown passes to four interceptions.

It has been suspected that NFL owners and fans believe politics should be kept out of sports. Yet, Kaepernick still hasn’t been signed.

Kaepernick, as a result, has filed grievance charges against NFL owners on October 15, that would violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Kaepernick believes the issue for him remaining unemployed is due to NFL owners having an internal agreement to restrict themselves from him being signed, which would be a clear violation against the CBA.

Whether or not NFL owners are guilty of violating that specific section of the CBA remains to be seen, but either way, they seem reluctant to give Kaepernick a chance to play because of his protest.

The question remains, should politics be kept out of sports?

Political beliefs can often lead to controversy, which is why NFL owners and fans prefer them to be kept out of sports, but there is nothing under player contracts or the CBA that restricts players from expressing their first amendment right.

As long as the players don’t violate their contracts and the CBA, then players should be able to assemble themselves without penalties.

NFL owners and fans should respect their player’s decisions, even if they don’t agree with them, as it is their protest in a peaceful manner.

For Kaepernick and the rest of the players that have kneeled for the national anthem, their intention isn’t to show crude displeasure towards the military and others that have defended the freedoms in the United States.

Therefore, there shouldn’t be an issue with players expressing their rights to protest.

Regardless, players today still continue to kneel for the national anthem to fight against social injustices, inspired by Kaepernick.

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