“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
An old adage advises people to “Pick your battles wisely.” This dictum implies that one should know when to fight for a cause and when to seek to advance that cause by other means. Fighting for too many causes—or for doubtful causes—can be counterproductive. Expending personal treasure unwisely for a dubious cause is wasteful at best, and tragic at worst.
Which brings us to San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he’d refuse to stand for our national anthem until such time as the USA achieves whatever measure of social justice is deemed satisfactory by Kaepernick.
This brought a predictable tidal wave of opprobrium down upon Kaepernick, along with ripples of praise from the disaffected usual suspects who delight in trashing the USA.
While there is always value in reflecting on how we can improve things, did Kaepernick really need to torpedo his own career to create even more divisive debate on issues and agendas embraced by Black Lives Matter?
Kaepernick is presumably not an idiot and knew that his stance would draw a visceral, negative, and costly reaction from countless millions of Americans. But many who disagreed with his approach did laud his courage and nerve.
But for me, the larger point—the biggest “take-away”—from the Kaepernick affair is that our country is strong because it allows dissent. There is a reason that the First Amendment is FIRST. Freedom of expression is priceless.
Other countries mandate public respect for national leaders and national symbols—countries where Kaepernick’s actions would land him in prison. In the USA, he’s free to disrespect our nation’s symbol without fear of arrest. That’s the beauty of America.
I marvel at how at most athletic events I’ve attended, 100% of the spectators stand for the anthem, on their own accord. Sure, there’s peer pressure, but when occasional malcontents refuse to stand, it’s a reminder of America’s greatness. They don’t get arrested.
That’s why I oppose laws and amendments that ban flag desecration. Such laws would only make flag burning more attractive to the haters. North Korea will execute you for disrespecting its flag. We’re better than that. Even France sanctions people for not honoring its national anthem. We’re better than that.
One-time MLB center-fielder Rick Monday remains a hero of mine. A former Marine, Monday was in the Dodger Stadium outfield when some malcontents took to the field to exercise their First Amendment right to “freedom of expression” by publicly burning an American flag. Monday gave expression to HIS feelings by kicking their asses and rescuing the flag.
Time will tell as to how all this will play out regarding Kaepernick’s career and legacy. But he likely picked the wrong battle.
Where did Colin Kaepernick go to college? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on Sept. 8 include Negro League baseball star Buck O’Neil (1907) and NBA guard Maurice Cheeks (1956).
Sportsquote “I never graduated from Iowa. I was only there for two terms—Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.” –Football Hall-of-Famer Alex Karras
Colin Kaepernick attended the University of Nevada-Reno.
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord, while also teaching on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.