Colin Kaepernick — When Going Viral Sucks OR…WORKS?

Over the last two months professional athletes have been making a new kind of name for themselves in the mainstream media for things outside of their profession. One prominent example of this was back in mid July during the 2016 ESPY Awards. During this sports awards show, my favorite basketball player NY Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and his other NBA buddies Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul decided to take a 3.5 minute stance against topics such as gun violence, and unarmed black people being killed by police in predominantly black communities around the United States. 

This action in particular sparked a national conversation and debate around the topic of gun violence. Now six weeks later these athletes are still looked at favorably for sharing the words they did. However as we all know from our parents growing up, “Actions speak louder than words,” and in time we will see what kind of net impact the words these athletes spoke that night has on our country.

This weekend however another star athlete in the NFL decided to do the reverse. He performed a very simple action without speaking any words. This athlete rather sat silently on a bench during our national anthem before the start of a pre-season football game. I’m referring to San Francisco 49'ers starting Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. His action over the weekend sparked national controversy over what I initially considered to be the most impactful “When Going Viral Sucks,” moment of the weekend, or was it really…?

See no one in the mass media seemed to know ahead of time, of Colin’s plan to sit down on the bench during the singing of the national anthem. As a result when the media found out what he did they started to interpret and skew his initial “purpose/mission” of performing the action he did.

Fireworks rang from ESPN, FOX, MSNBC, CNN and plenty of other media outlets calling for:

  1. The 49er’s to bench Colin during the next game
  2. The NFL to suspend Colin for his action
  3. The 49er’s to cut Colin from the team roster
  4. Colin to apologize to the millions of Americans disrespected by this move
  5. And much, much more….

It felt like it was, “Off with his head,” messages, and rhetoric coming from the media outlets, and the public for Colin making this silent, simple, and yet powerful statement. Previous fans were burning his jersey and everyone seemed to be casting this negative light on Colin for being this horrible, and disrespectful human being. 

But why did he get slammed like this? I mean when you listen to Colin’s interviews and statements after performing this action, he simply informs the public that he was standing up for the black families who have lost loved ones during recent shootings involving local police. The quarterback hasn’t been happy to date with gun violence, and is disappointed in what he’s seen recently as many unarmed black people continue to be gunned down in their respective communities.

It’s interesting because this certainly can be looked at as a “When Going Viral Sucks,” moment for Colin. He’s getting ripped apart all weekend for being this awful person who shows no respect for his country. That part of this story clearly sucks for Colin! Lets be honest who would ever want to get painted in this kind of manner amongst millions of people around the world?

However now a couple days after the action was performed, you see various people coming out and supporting Colin. Other people from all types of races and ethnicities understanding Colin’s point of view. So maybe it begs the question. Was this more of a “When Going Viral WORKS,” moment as opposed to sucks?

Colin raised a ton of awareness around gun violence, 2nd amendment rights, racial profiling, police violence, oppression in black communities, and plenty more subjects. He’s re-starting a national debate that comes and goes over the air waves as other news headlines need to get covered. He is using his prominent platform, klout, and audience to shed light on important topics that matter to him. By doing this he is also allowing important conversations to take place amongst the general public and those who are both directly and indirectly involved in these topics.

Of course he had to take some punches to the gut “mentally” for doing what he did, but someone like Colin has thick skin, and is one mentally tough dude. After all you don’t make it to the NFL as a starting quarterback and play in the Super Bowl without being one mentally tough warrior. 

Although I may not agree with the way in which Colin handled this, and I think there could have been other ways for him to express his opinion, I’m not going to bash him for doing what he did. I mean honestly the public shouldn’t be so quick to forget the HUNDREDS, of other football games this man has participated in where before each game started, he stood up for the national anthem as sign of respect for his country. It’s not like this guy is some anti-american, criminally minded individual who should be immediately banned from the craft at which he put decades of blood, sweat and tears into just because he shared his opinion in a unique manner.

It goes to show you that although your actions can be as simple as sitting, and words can literally be mute, in today’s world you still can generate viral tidal waves within minutes. It also demonstrates that individuals can make something go viral by disrupting the status quo. By doing something unusual that people aren’t accustomed to, that it disturbs them so much (whether negatively or positively) that they have to talk about it, and talk about it to the masses.

It definitely proves that actions do speak louder than words, and although on the surface this might look like a really sucky moment for Colin, his initial “purpose/mission” for doing what he did, only a couple days later seems to be resonating and WORKING!