In the fall of 2016, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick created a firestorm when he took a knee during the national anthem. He was protesting police brutality perpetuated against African-American men, and the reaction to his simple act of dissent was immense. Seemingly everyone—from our neighbors and coworkers to the tweet-happy President of the United States—had an opinion on the political stance of this single NFL football player. The following year, Kaepernick chose to become a free agent once it became clear that the 49ers were going to release him rather than let him play. Since that time, however, he has yet to play another game in the NFL. While this decision has never been directly tied to his protest, many believe the quarterback’s career has been ruined because of his political views.
On this episode, we examine the difficulties athletes face when they speak out on hot-button subjects. We spoke with filmmaker Trish Dalton, co-director and co-producer of the HBO Sports’ documentary, Student Athlete, and Robert Turner, author of Not For Long: The Life and Career of the NFL Athlete for their insights on the topic.
Featured image credit: Game ball by Ben Hershey. Public domain via Unsplash.