Kaepernick's refusal to stand for national anthem roils Twitter

Technically Incorrect: The NFL star says that he's protesting against the treatment of blacks in America.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Colin Kaepernick. Standing up for his principles?

Stack/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

As protests go, it was as silent as you could get.

While the rest of his team stood for the national anthem during a preseason game on Friday night, quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench.

When asked about it by NFL.com, Kaepernick explained: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

He surely knew this would not go quietly into the night.

On Twitter, the reaction was strong and divided.

"At the Rio olympics Usain Bolt stopped an interview to honor our national anthem. Spoiled brat #Kaepernick sits it out. Pick your role model," tweeted Tiffany Bass.

Others, though, felt he was free to express what he wanted. For example, Drew Allen explained: "If Colin #Kaepernick doesn't want to observe the national anthem, he doesn't have to. That's the beauty of liberty: no coercion/force."

For his part, Kaepernick's Twitter account was once the the source of his motivation. In 2013, he said that he favorited those who expressed their hate.

These days, the account is largely a series of retweets. Many concern the serious issues the African-American community faces with respect to policing.

He's also recently retweeted articles on such subjects as teachers in central California being allowed to carry guns and the fact that Hillary Clinton seems to have a big problem with her emails.

Kaepernick is bi-racial, adopted and was brought up by white parents. He's not the first professional athlete to stage such a protest.

NBA guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf -- formerly known as Chris Jackson -- used to stretch while the anthem was being played before games during the 1995-96 season.

He did it for quite a while before anyone noticed. Social media didn't exist at the time. Once the NBA noticed, he was suspended for a game. The NBA then allowed him to stand during the anthem and look down, his eyes shut.

The San Francisco 49ers didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, the team issued statement to NFL.com. It read, in part: "In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."

NFL rules say that players are encouraged to stand for the anthem but don't have to.

Those of jaundiced principles might mutter than Kaepernick's star has fallen in recent times.

Through shaky play and injury, he's no longer a starter. He requested a trade, but this wasn't forthcoming. Moreover, his new coach Chip Kelly is an enthusiastic supporter of the military. He participates in USO tours.

Twitter seems not to see too many nuances.

Kaepernick is either "disgusting" or he's following in the footsteps of black baseball great Jackie Robinson who said: "I cannot stand and sing the National Anthem. I have learned that I remain a black in a white world."

Kaepernick told NFL.com that he's prepared to lose his endorsements and even football itself over the issue.

I wonder whether anyone on Twitter would change their minds about him then.