As the NFL is concluding its preseason and college football is set to start this week, arguably the biggest news headed into the start of the season has become the recent declaration by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that he will not stand for the national anthem prior to any games for the foreseeable future, stating that he will not "stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
To no surprise, football players, coaches, and executives at all levels have been asked their opinion on the situation, and others both inside and outside of the game have volunteered their opinions on social media platforms, such as Twitter. During his press conference on Monday, Syracuse Orange football head coach Dino Babers was asked to share his thoughts on how he would respond to a player taking a stand like Kaepernick's. In a tweet from Syracuse.com's Chris Carlson, here is how the first year coach of the Orange responded:
Babers on how he'd respond to player who wanted to protest like Kaepernick: I would stress there is a difference between adult/college kid.— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) August 29, 2016
According to Carlson, Babers took his time before he responded to the question, thinking hard about what he wanted to say before he said it and appreciated that it was asked. It seems as though, given the question being asked in a press conference setting, he did not want to elaborate more, but he offered an interesting take that can leave a lot of us thinking about what he would do if he were to come across that scenario.
People have taken many different stances in this conversation. Some are supporting Kaepernick's right to express his own sentiments based on the principles of freedom of speech in America. Others do not support him and interpret it as a sign of disrespect toward his country, the military, and even his team.
While Babers seems to think that a college kid should not protest in that way, there could be many reasons as to why he would not want him to do that. While it could have both a positive or negative impact on the team and community, he could also be looking out for this hypothetical student-athlete. If a player were to protest in this form at the college level, it would inevitably alter the perception of his peers, professors, and potential employers while he is pursuing a degree or a chance to play in the NFL. This doesn't mean that Babers would not support the player or the stance he was taking, just that he is looking out for his best interests.
Both former and current Syracuse football players took to Twitter to express their opinion on the situation. Former cornerback Julian Whigham and sophomore safety Daivon Ellison seem to support Kaepernick for expressing his right to free speech.
The way ppl are reacting to the Kaep situation are making and missing his point.— Julian Whigham (@JulianWhigham) August 27, 2016
What the flag means is subjective. Plenty of room for improvement in our country.— Julian Whigham (@JulianWhigham) August 27, 2016
Freedom. Liberty & justice for all. And it's evident that our country hasn't upheld that standard for every citizen. https://t.co/81ke9322lc— Julian Whigham (@JulianWhigham) August 28, 2016
August 29, 2016
On the other hand, redshirt freshman defensive end Jake Pickard was critical of the quarterback.
I am embarrassed to call myself a CFB player knowing @Kaepernick7 was once in my shoes and chose to disrespect our country and military— Jake Pickard (@Jspickard99) August 29, 2016
People of all colors, races, and religions are dying every day to protect what that flag and anthem represent... Despicable @Kaepernick7— Jake Pickard (@Jspickard99) August 29, 2016
That flag goes beyond our own countries boarders and rests on the shoulders of the men and women defending it with their lives @Kaepernick7— Jake Pickard (@Jspickard99) August 29, 2016
You do not deserve to live in this country let alone be a role model to young kids and football players everywhere @Kaepernick7— Jake Pickard (@Jspickard99) August 29, 2016
As Kaepernick continues to sit out the national anthem, people will continue to have their opinions on the situation, and rightfully so. It does not seem like the debate on this topic will be ending any time soon.
(Ed. note - If you can find a way to remain civil in the comments, please do)