ESPN and the rest of the American media cannot believe that Colin Kaepernick has still not been signed to play football for a team in the National Football League. How could this man, who took a knee during the national anthem last season and wore a Castro T-shirt in Miami, possibly remain unemployed? The answers are never flattering to the NFL owners.
Change The Story Slightly, And See What Happens
In order to help American reporters and ESPN radio hosts understand, we need to turn the kaleidoscope and see the situation in a different light. Let us imagine that a player on one of the teams takes a knee during the national anthem. Reporters swarm him after the game to find out why. He explains the following:
My wife gave birth to our son a few months ago. He has Down Syndrome. During the pregnancy, we were repeatedly counseled to terminate the fetus. In fact, we changed doctors because we just couldn’t believe the answer to a Down Syndrome baby is abortion. Our child James was born. We love him and can’t imagine how we would feel if we had taken our doctor’s advice. I believe God has given us this child to raise. As a result of all this, I became interested in this kind of genetic counseling that was offered to us. I found out that the overwhelming majority of unborn children with Down Syndrome are terminated. The whole thing shook me to my core. What kind of country am I living in where we throw these children away like they are trash?
That’s why I decided to take a knee. I just can’t celebrate America knowing we have these kinds of laws and that so many children die as a result. We should be encouraging parents of Down Syndrome kids, not advising them to have abortions.
Predictably, a huge uproar follows. The American public is substantially divided on the question of abortion. Many are inspired by the player’s symbolic knee taken during the anthem each Sunday, but millions of others are angered by it. The owner of the team is frustrated. He loves football. He played the game as a kid, has always been a fan, and sees the pageantry and the competition as something people can enjoy together each week.
Regardless of his own politics, he resents the fact that his goals as a team owner have been completely hijacked by his player. He wouldn’t object to him speaking at political rallies, doing commercials for the cause, campaigning for candidates, etc. But he doesn’t like the fact that before games begin, all the attention is on his player refusing to stand for the national anthem.
From his perspective, the player is using his team and his sport for the purpose of politics. He thinks that IBM wouldn’t have to tolerate an executive using board meetings and press conferences to promote a particular view of politics in the Middle East or something along those lines and doesn’t understand why he is in such a weak position. The reality is that he and his team have become captive.
This Is Why NFL Owners Are Reluctant To Sign Kaepernick
Now, let’s return the kaleidoscope to its present position, in which we can clearly see Colin Kaepernick. Is it not easier now to understand why NFL owners do not wish to sign him despite his abilities? They realize that they aren’t signing a quarterback. They are signing a cause that may insist on a free commercial in front of millions every Sunday afternoon (and then be amplified by media throughout the week). There is a lot more involved than just money available under the salary cap.
It is shocking that the well-educated members of the national media can’t perform such a simple moral analysis and see the situation more clearly. There is something deeply unfair about assuming NFL owners are moral cowards or easy racists when they avoid Colin Kaepernick.
By choosing a cause with which media members are unsympathetic (abortion), but one that has powerful implications regarding justice, I hope to cause scales to drop from some of the eyes now looking upon the scene with great moral superiority and high-minded judgment. The reality is that if they didn’t like the cause, they would be defending the owners from aspersions cast upon their motives. They would suddenly understand the other side of the equation.
It is important to be clear, though. I am not saying Colin Kaepernick should not take the knee, or that my fictional character should not do the same. That might be the correct moral course. But I am certain that those who have doubts about such a course of action deserve more respect than they are getting. There should be much more room for understanding and conversation than there has been for accusation and recrimination so far.