Another match lit another powder keg, with the NBA directly in the blast zone.
Recently, a wave of boycotts hit the altered NBA Finals, following the hateful acts of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Acts that took place mere hours after the shooting of Jacob Blake. In the midst of everything happening, even with the playoffs in full swing, the players united to peacefully protest.
Let’s turn back the clock for a second. The date is Aug. 26, 2016. The Packers are playing the 49ers in a regular pre-season game. The national anthem comes on before kickoff, as usual. While everyone stands, a lone Colin Kaepernick takes a knee on the sidelines, much to everyone’s chagrin at the time.
The following years would prove to be challenging ones for Kaepernick, as he would face being ostracized and viewed as a liability for nearly every NFL team. Many said he was dishonoring the flag and, therefore, his country. To this very day, Kaepernick is still not on an NFL roster. The world made him a poison, just because he was doing what he felt was right.
Fast forward back to today, and the boycotts by the NBA are not only accepted, but praised, viewing the players as brave and important icons for social justice. Commissioner Adam Silver has created a space for everyone to express themselves freely, with all the support in the world. Many have spoken out in support of the cause, including former President Barack Obama. The NBA isn’t only allowed to protest freely, but they also seem to be encouraged.
Now, I’m not saying anyone is in the wrong for protesting. Quite the opposite, actually; I think what they are doing is crucially important, and I am proud they’re using their platform to take a stand. I’m merely pointing out that they’ve received far more leniency than Kaepernick did. I’m pointing out that countless murders, shootings and years of injustice shouldn’t be what allows the protests. They should have been OK when Kaepernick bravely took a stand that August afternoon. We should have been viewing Kaepernick in the same light that we view the NBA boycotts.
In a world of injustice and inequality, a group of athletes are using their privilege to take a stand against evil and to educate those who maybe don’t have all the answers. Those brave athletes are doing what many of us don’t have the stomach to do: stand up for what’s right, no matter the consequences. If the rest of us did our part like they are, then the world would be a better place.