It’s been over a year since then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a seat during the national anthem. His peaceful protest wasn’t noticed at first, but when it was, it sparked an important national dialogue.
Fast forward to the present, and protest in sports is front and center. A large number of NFL players kneeled for the anthem on Sunday, with many others (and owners) linking arms. MLB saw its first anthem protest and, to the surprise of no one, the President complained like a petulant child.
Of course, the Golden State Warriors made the news for related reasons. After Stephen Curry suggested he would not visit the White House, Donald Trump rescinded the invitation before it was even sent, while publicly criticizing the star point guard. The Warriors had all the right responses, and were one of the faces of a sports weekend that was full of protest and politics.
In an attempt to depict the powerful and eventful week, Sports Illustrated created a cover featuring ten sports figures who recently made their voices heard. Included were Curry, and coach Steve Kerr.
Unfortunately, the cover is missing a key person: Kaepernick. And this was not a fact that Curry missed.
Stephen Curry on Sports Illustrated cover: "That was terrible. It's capitalizing on the hoopla and the media and all that nonsense."— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 27, 2017
Stephen Curry said the recent SI cover (in which he was on) not including Colin Kaepernick was "terrible" pic.twitter.com/HDSUxcQvdm— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 27, 2017
If you’re unable to view the video, Curry makes some eloquent (and highly accurate) comments. He rightfully notes that many are being prisoners of the moment, and not giving credit to those who are fighting to make a difference. He suggests that the cover is an attempt to capitalize on a narrative, rather than commend the true activists such as Kaepernick.
This leads us to another important point regarding the recent protests, and why we can’t forget Kaepernick. Kaepernick sat during the anthem to protest police brutality and institutional racism.
For a whole season, only a handful of players joined him. Now, only after Trump referred to Kaepernick (and other players who protest during the anthem) as “sons of bitches”, and attacked Curry online, has the protest gained momentum.
What was once a protest about inequality and racism is now a protest about a specific person. Some NFL players have even said that they’ll continue kneeling until Trump apologizes.
While peaceful protests against the administration are certainly commendable, Curry is right that we need to remember Kaepernick. Not only did Kaepernick start the protests, and contribute heavily to both the discussion and social activism, but he sat for something specific. Let’s not forget that.