Bob Nightengale of USA Today spoke at length with Adam Jones about Colin Kaepernick’s continuing practice of not standing for the National Anthem in protest of racism and injustice in America. A protest which has spread to several other football teams in the past week or two.
It has not spread to baseball, however, and Jones talks about why that is. His comments on that, including the quote “baseball is a white man’s sport” will likely get all of the play as this story spreads and will likely be taken out of context, but that quote is something of an aside which, however sensationalized it may become, is secondary to his larger points, even if they’re worth discussion in their own right.
His most on-point comments, in my view anyway, are right here, made in the course of dismissing those people who claim that Kaepernick is disrespecting the military or the country:
“Look, I know a lot of people who don’t even know the words to the national anthem. You know how many times I see people stand up for the national anthem and not pay attention. They stand because they’re told to stand.
“That’s the problem. Just don’t do something because you’re told to do something. Do it because you understand the meaning behind it and the sacrifice behind it.’’
As many have argued in Kaepernick’s defense, demanding that someone not protest the way he sees fit is the very definition of not understanding the meaning behind the anthem and the sacrifice behind it.
Jones goes on to talk about how it’s somehow controversial when an athlete — especially a black athlete — makes political or social comments and stands while anyone else with a voice and an audience can say whatever they want with impunity. He’s spot-on there too. We want athletes to “stick to sports” in ways we’d never dare ask anyone else to stick to certain narrow topics or concerns. It’s totally messed up.
Jones is given a lot of room in Nightengale’s article to talk about these matters and the entirety of his comments are worth your time. Pay special attention to the final quote.
The playoffs might be very interesting this year for reasons that have nothing to do with the game on the field.