I made the Sports pages!

So, in a first for my media appearances, I actually made the Sports page yesterday.  And, even better, in the column of a sportswriter I’ve long been a fan of.  Barry Jacobs— an amazing historian of ACC history, etc.– wrote a column on Kapernick and national anthem protests and ended up talking to me.  My quotations are decent enough, but this is really interesting reading for lots of great historical anecdotes I had no idea about.  But it’s my blog, so here’s me:

“That shows great courage,” Steven Greene, an N.C. State professor of political science, says of the anthem protests. “Anybody can wear a T-shirt that says ‘Black Lives Matter’ – you’re not going to get too much grief for that. To not stand for the national anthem, you know you’re going to get grief. You may not fully appreciate just how much … It’s a bold stance because we know how much this country values patriotism and, honestly, how much it’s tied up into sports.”

I thought I might actually get some angry emails or voicemails after calling Kapernick’s actions courageous, but nothing.  I guess I’ll take it.  And while we’re at it, excellent column from Josh Levin on how this has absolutely mattered:

What has Kaepernick’s supposedly empty gesture achieved thus far? It’s inspired football players and other athletes to speak up about race and police violence, and to do so in such a way that reporters, fans, and team owners actually pay attention. According to Robert Klemko, more than 70 NFL players, including Kaepernick, Foster, and Richard Sherman, are in a group text talking about “what Kaep started.” That’s not a gesture. That’s a movement.

The 49ers franchise announced they would donate $1 million to, in the words of the team’s chief executive, Jed York, “the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.” Kaepernick has pledged $1 million of his own money to address the same issues. “I have to help these people. I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in a position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed,” he said. That’s a movement with money to back it up.

Just as important, Kaepernick has made his fellow Americans think about what they’re standing for, and why. No NFL player stood for the national anthem until 2009—before then, the players stayed in the locker room as the anthem played. NFL teams got patriotic in recent years because it was good for business. A 2015 congressional report revealed that the Department of Defense had paid $5.4 million to NFL teams between 2011 and 2014 to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies; the National Guard shelled out $6.7 million for similar displays between 2013 and 2015.

And as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion noted, if you think Kaepernick’s gesture is an empty one, you need to grapple with the fact that “standing for the national anthem before a sporting event is an equally empty gesture for many people.” Consider that, as Marcus Peters raised his right fist in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, thousands of fans interrupted the supposedly sacred anthem to yell out “home of the CHIEFS!” Thousands more jersey-wearing, beer-swilling patriots booed President Obama’s pre-recorded Sept. 11 speech as it poured out of PA systems in Baltimore, Seattle, and New Jersey. Patriotism!

If Kaepernick had donated $1 million without the anthem protest, or if he’d stuck to venting on social media, then prominent columnists and TV yakkers wouldn’t be calling him an idiot. Nobody would be saying anything at all, because nobody would care. [emphasis mine]



About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to I made the Sports pages!

  1. Mika says:

    These “Related” headlines from the bottom of this post are quite something when you see them all at once 🙂

    Foremost national anthem expert
    In “Politics”
    National Anthem expert
    In “Politics”
    My national anthem expertise knows no bounds
    In “Politics””

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    When an individual makes a public protest on his employer’s or his institution’s time, is that really fair to that employer or institution? After all, the employer or the institution is providing the audience and it can cost more money than most individuals could pay.
    And what if that individual had not been involved in his/her private life for that same cause previously?
    Is self-promotion involved here?

    “If Kaepernick had donated $1 million without the anthem protest, or if he’d stuck to venting on social media, then prominent columnists and TV yakkers wouldn’t be calling him an idiot. Nobody would be saying anything at all, because nobody would care. [emphasis mine]”
    So, do the ends justify the means?

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