Colin Kaepernick inquiry

Can sports help us understand history, politics, and ourselves?
(updated with the most recent, relevant links)

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Left: African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the Black Power salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as a protest against racial discrimination in the United States. Right: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick covers his mouth as he kneels during the national anthem before an NFL game in 2016.

Last time I checked, students weren’t thinking about what they were saying during the weekly Pledge of Allegiance or what they were singing on game days during the National Anthem…

They are now!

And I have Colin Kaepernick to thank for that.

There are a lot of opinions about his form of protest against racial injustice, just like there were lots of opinions about colonists dumping tea into the Boston harbor in 1773, women signing the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls in 1848, and African Americans refusing to ride buses in Montgomery in 1955, to name a few…

If you know American history, it’s really hard to say that protesting in America is un-American.

Here are a few questions to ask students (and research alongside them) under the assumption that most American thing to do in the face of controversy is think, learn, and communicate more:

Why did Colin Kaepernick take a knee during an NFL National Anthem and who cares?

How does Kaepernick’s action compare to other sports-related, athlete-led protests?

If you’re not a fan of protesting during the National Anthem at an NFL workplace, what’s a better way for Colin Kaepernick to share that message?

Looking for a more formal lesson plan? Here you go:

Also see:

Want to put together a more substantial course about society and sports + people and play?

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