A strange new world

American footballer Colin Kaepernick’s protests have underlined the power of sport and endorsement
It is a strange world when a brash young man, a multinational corporation with a reputation for running sweatshops and a Twitter-happy American President combine to convince you that American football is more than a bunch of grown men piling over each other. It just might be the stuff that legends are made of.
Taking on Trump
The story began in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, a football player with the San Francisco 49er team, chose to kneel on one knee instead of standing when the American national anthem was being played before a nationally televised football game. Kaepernick chose kneeling as a way of drawing attention to needless deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police and vigilantes — while demonstrating his respect for the anthem. Instead of focussing on the cause Kaepernick was trying to highlight — Black Lives Matter movement — U.S. President Donald Trump chose to make him a whipping post by tweeting in September 2017, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect… our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
With everything to lose
All good stories need heroes and villains. The irony of this story is that we are handed unlikely heroes and villains. We have Kaepernick, a brash young man with tattoos, who is often considered an egotist. It would be easy to dismiss his protest as a way of seeking the limelight. However, the magnitude of his sacrifice can only be understood if we remember that as a young college student, Kaepernick was seen as a rising baseball star, while he loved another sport, football. He was offered a professional contract to play for one of the well-known baseball teams that he turned down to continue to play football at a time when his future in football was uncertain. For a man who loves football this much, to walk away from it in order to continue to speak truth to power is a profile in courage that few can match. The moments that make history are only recognised in retrospect. Mahatma Gandhi picked up a pinch of salt in Dandi and changed the fate of British empire. Rosa Parks sat down on a bus in Alabama in a seat reserved for whites and changed the nature of race relations in America. Will Nike by standing up to political and market forces change the nature of corporate citizenship? I hope so. Sonalde Desai is Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland and Senior Fellow at the National Council of Applied Economic Research. The views expressed are personal

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-strange-new-world/article24897773.ece

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