What’s up, y’all – welcome to Off-Beat.
Now that I’m the Editor-in-Chief of this fine publication, I wanted to branch out a little from writing about music and sports. This is my place to write about pretty much whatever I want. While I may tackle some current issues – as I’m about to do – expect me to have a pretty different slant most of the time.
Let’s jump in and go “0-100” real quick, Drake-style. I want to talk about Colin Kaepernick.
The only way you could not have heard about Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem is if you’ve lived under a rock or had your eardrums obliterated by the last Kid Cudi album. Everyone has had a hot take on this issue, which at this point hovers between meme and serious discussion. Heck, I almost didn’t write this article, because I’m so sick of this story. However, I think I have a different slant on the issue. Please stay with me on this one.
Sports has a unique ability to unite people from all walks of life. By the nature of sports teams, people can support a team, whether they’re black or white, rich or poor. The amount of strangers I’ve talked to in public for going against the grain and repping the Brewers (Let’s Go Crew!) number in the hundreds. Sports has united nations (the 1995 South African Rugby World Cup team), cities (Cleveland Cavaliers), and even local communities (think of high school athletics).
I bring this up because our country is in some deep crap right now. The biggest problem is the rift being driven between people. Everyone, black and white, is moving to take away parts of the other side’s history and culture. Whether that be firing white staff and replacing them with black staff in colleges, cultural appropriation of music and culture, or the Black Lives Matter movement, both white and black America are slugging it out with each other. Both sides are at fault for not being able to put their differences aside and fix the issue at its root.
Our very society is founded on difference. Historically, the two halves of society share very little. As much as I hate to say it, the two halves of society have very different histories, different music, different cultures. It is almost as if we live in two Americas. The only thing we can seem to share is our love of sports. In this day and age, the bastion of this sporting culture is none other than professional knucklehead Roger Goodell’s own National Football League.
What Colin Kaepernick is doing is neither right nor wrong, but it is dangerous. What Colin Kaepernick is doing threatens the one thing we can agree on in America: sports. As more and more players take knees during the national anthem and more and more uninformed fans weigh in willy-nilly, the gap of misunderstanding in this country only grows bigger. It isn’t bad that Kaepernick has taken his stand and put sports in danger. On the contrary, it is most likely beneficial. Since more and more people ignore the news, the best way to get someone’s attention nowadays is to disrupt the NFL. It’s like yanking the oxygen tube out, except on an entire country. Kaepernick’s protest has exposed that there are rifts even in things we all share.
However, for all of the divisiveness surrounding the situation, there have been many moving displays of unity. Multiple teams, such as the Falcons and Seahawks, have had pregame displays in which they take Kaepernick’s strategy and spin it on its head. Instead of a few players taking knees by themselves, the entire teams have linked arms, standing together for their brothers and for their country. Unity is more powerful than division.
Sports can be used in two different ways. They can divide and separate us in society based on allegiances or beliefs, or bring us together and unite us under a common banner. Our country is much more powerful if black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative can come together. In today’s day and age, when both sides are going out of their way to avoid each other, we need something to bring everyone together. As a society, sometimes what we need to do is to take a step back and all link arms together.