There are those who hope to be famous so they can revel in the prestige, luxury and comfort it affords. There are others who are thrown into fame and utilize their position to enlighten the public on core social justice issues. The former is a stereotype too common in the National Football League, where players dream of making it into the league to prove their haters wrong or to buy diamond-encrusted Rolex watches.
Managed by older white males, both those who own the individual teams and who control the league, these players are pawns at the hands of the elite. Football is a sport of profit, with Super Bowl Sunday generating advertisement revenues of almost $3.5 billion every year. It is the most watched show in TV history, and the sport itself brings in hundreds of millions of viewers combined, which incidentally makes it a great medium for protest.
This year, GQ released its decision for Man of the Year: Colin Kaepernick. A cover star in 2013 as well, this year, GQ hoped to use the issue to celebrate his bravery and commitment to a cause that is too often brushed under the rug. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem sent ripples through the football and global communies, as some criticized his actions for being disrespectful while others praised his audacity. He risked his career, losing his job as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to end up as a free agent, but he insisted on committing to his values to enact greater change for the black community.
Many NYU students praised and admired Kaepernick for his actions.
CAS sophomore Charlie You referenced similarities between demonstrations in history and Kaepernick’s, recalling how “a lot of people in history have done their own unique forms of protest which were not really appreciated, but the magazine is respecting [Kaepernick’s] unique form of protest” with its new issue.
You further added that Kaepernick was “commendable, he was really alone when he started and regardless of anyone’s views, it is respectable that he is doing this.”
Augustine Liu, a Stern sophomore, echoed this same belief and added his own belief that Kaepernick’s kneeling was “a personal choice, voicing something that, in his mind, is against his morality.” He further emphasized that Kaepernick truly deserved the position because “it’s not easy to stand up against the majority,” much less an entire nation divided by racial issues.
While Liu was not as familiar with Kaepernick before his protests, he said he gained “some real respect for [him afterwards as] it is really important for the black community to have a representative to voice their concerns.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 4 print edition. Email Helen Xie at [email protected]