The Corner

Culture

After Further Review, the Player Stands!

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Look Who’s Rising to His Feet Now!

We may cynically suspect soon-to-be unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick is doing the right thing (announcing he will stand for the National Anthem next season) for the wrong reasons (recognizing he’s no longer as valuable to a team because of the controversy, and this will cost him money in free agency). Kaepernick will leave the San Francisco 49ers next week, and is looking for a starting job with another team.

When somebody does the right thing for the wrong reasons, should we applaud?

Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created, sources told ESPN. He also said the amount of national discussion on social inequality — as well as support from other athletes nationwide, including NFL and NBA players — affirmed the message he was trying to deliver.

I suspect ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith spoke for a lot of people when he said, “It’s incredibly opportunistic, it’s flagrantly so, he’s not fooling anybody this way. I’d appreciate if he went out and said, ‘I’m going to vote next time.’ That would resonate a lot more with me.”

ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt: “He’s making his case to the 31 [other] teams. He has to get a job and eliminate the ‘distraction’ dis­crim­i­n­a­tion, [and not] let teams have any reason to not sign Colin Kaepernick. He’s really realizing the practical aspects of what’s going on here.”

Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd makes me yell at my radio more than any other host, but he seems to be pretty spot-on in his cynicism here:

Kaepernick now believes he’s made real change — that is, at best, debatable. But now when he’s a free agent. . . . What happened to your altruism? What happened to your “this is long term”? What happened to your strong belief, now that you’re on the market and you still want to get paid? Now! Now you won’t kneel for the anthem. . . . Now you know [NFL general managers] don’t want you bringing politics to work. So now it takes courage to do it. It’s one thing when you’re under contract and [49ers backup] Blaine Gabbart is the best [other] quarterback on your team. It doesn’t take a ton of courage. Now it takes courage. Feels like a sellout to me. And I defended Kaepernick!

David Harsanyi adds his voice to the chorus imploring athletes to keep their political stances off the field and let everyone enjoy sports as a realm far removed from the tense, angry debates of the day.

How many voters are going to change their ideological views because Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox took a leadership position on, well, whatever it is that Todd believes is dividing Americans? Most voters, I assume, conduct business and relationships with co-workers and family who hold philosophical positions other than their own. Should a cashier at Target or an accountant at H&R Block feel compelled to lecture everyone he or she meets about public policy? What would our communities look like if everyone were an activist? Insufferable, that’s what.

Moreover, the MLB’s great diversity reflects not only the bravery of Robinson but also his victory. There will never be another Jackie Robinson. We don’t need another Jackie Robinson. Baseball already proves that rural whites, Hispanic immigrants, African-Americans, and Yankees can all live and play on a team, pull together, aspire to greatness, and make a vast amount of money in the process. The ability of diverse people to live peacefully under a free system is the American ideal. Demanding unanimity of opinion is not. In many ways, we still have the former. The latter is what tears us apart.

Longtime sportswriter Jason Whitlock has observed that sports journalism is attracting a lot of writers who really aren’t that interested in sports, but who are interested in bringing progressive stances and issues to the fore in the sports world.

This hyper-progressive movement that has lurched into sports and changed the conversation about sports and in sports TV. . . . So much of the conversation is inconsistent with the values of sports culture. I’m gonna say it until I’m blue in the face: Sports culture is conservative and religious! And we’ve turned “conservative” into a curse word in this country and it’s just not.

We’re turning off our base, our base of support. The people that coach Pee Wee football, the people that participate in Pee Wee football all the way through, we’re making them uncomfortable by inviting in all these people that really don’t care about sports, don’t love sports — they have a political agenda — and they’re leading the conversation about sports? It’s turning people off.

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