During a press conference at the G20 Summit in China, President Obama was asked to respond to San Francisco 49er's Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been in the news for refusing to stand during the National Anthem at football games, in protest against police brutality against Black Americans.
In terms of Mr. Kaepernick, I gotta admit I haven't been thinking about football, while I've been over here. And I haven't been following this closely, but my understanding at least is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there's a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there's a lot of ways you can do it. As a general matter, when it comes to the flag, and the National Anthem, and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear, what his deeper concerns are. But I don't doubt his sincerity, based on what I've heard. I think he cares about some real legitimate issues that have to be talked about. And, if nothing else, what he's done is, he’s generated more conversation around topics that need to be talked about.
Obama said he thinks Kaepernick will “refine how he’s thinking about it,” and “maybe some critics will see he has a point around justice and equality. Sometimes it’s messy. But that’s how democracy works.”
...He also hailed Kaepernick for his “active citizenry,” saying he’d “rather have young people who are engaged in the argument than people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.”
Of course, the President’s involvement will do nothing to slow what has become a hot political issue, with sides drawing sharp lines. But Kaepernick himself has shown willingness to move, as he went from sitting to kneeling after last week’s conversation with former Green Beret Nate Boyer.
The President also may not be aware how this is playing out stateside:
Turns out a number of active duty military have expressed support for Kaepernick via the #VetsforKaepernick hashtag.
Soccer star Megan Kapinoe is now kneeling during the National Anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick (though she has never met him) and says she will do so every game.
And ESPN reporter Julie Foudy tweeted her team's repsonse: