Just Do It!


Uchenna Hernandez and Anait Aliaga

As the national anthem plays, an NFL player puts his knee on the field and sparks controversy. A San Francisco 49ers quarterback named Colin Kaepernick ignited debate in 2016 for kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner.

Before 2009, the majority of NFL players stayed in the locker rooms. When Kaepernick came into play, he sat down to protest the racial inequality. No one bothered to notice the first couple of times he did it. When called out, he stated his reasoning and was told it was disrespectful to the flag. U.S Army veteran Nate Boyer told Kaepernick to kneel as it was a sign of respect to a fallen comrade. Kaepernick took this consideration and implemented it into his protest. Rather than sitting, the kneeling showed his respect for veterans and his original cause.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” – Colin Kaepernick.

Many people believe this was a huge disrespect to America and our veterans. The national anthem is meant to show respect to the people who got injured, risked their lives, and have died while defending the United States.

What Kaepernick intended in doing was to protest against the violent police brutality, racism, and social injustice that targets people of color. With the huge platform of the NFL, he wanted to raise awareness of these issues that affect people of color daily. The kneeling didn’t stop there.

Not only did it gain support in the NFL, but entered other sports such as baseball, hockey, soccer, and basketball. Such as in soccer, U.S. women’s national soccer team player Megan Rapinoe kneels during the national anthem in a game, her reasoning for this in her own words was “a nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now”. In baseball, Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s was the first MLB player to join the protest and kneel during the national anthem. In ice hockey, J. T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning had raised his fist while standing on a bench during the national anthem instead of kneeling. He stated he wants to bring awareness of police brutality against minorities and racial inequality.

Yet massive support came with massive backlash. The Trump administration was very vocal in their discontent. President Trump not only tweeted his anger but also spoke about it during a rally. He stated anyone who kneels should get fired. Though it is not known if his protesting has attributed to this, currently Colin Kaepernick does not have a job in the NFL.

Two years past and Nike is looking for a new face. A new advertising campaign was in the making to celebrate their 30th anniversary of their ‘Just Do It!’ slogan. Nike has chosen many sports player to be shown in ads such as Serena Williams who too was going through the sexism of the tennis sport.

On September 3rd, Nike chose a controversial move by picking Colin Kaepernick to be the face of their ad. Kaepernick face with “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” has yet again sparked controversy. The ad came along with Kaepernick apparel (some are currently sold out). Kaepernick is giving this money to a charity called Know Your Rights.

The backlash was huge. #BoycottNike was a trending tweet that contained people burning already bought Nike gear. Stocks drop three percent but a couple days later, its back its normal amount. Even with all the backlash, Nike sales have increased by 31%.

What Kaepernick did was voice the more than 100 souls lost to police brutality on a huge platform. Saying he is not allowed to do this goes against the first amendment of our bill of rights. Kaepernick had his right to protest and he is continuing even after been fired from the NFL. Nike did a brave move on this and showed the courage it takes to do such a thing. “I know that I’m doing something right, I know other people see what I’m doing is right. It’s something that we have to come together, we have to unite, we have to unify and make a change.” – Colin  Kaepernick