Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thinks athletes avoided defending Colin Kaepernick out of fear
Professional athletes have always been prominent figures in America. Over the decades, many athletes have used their notoriety to express themselves on subjects that fascinate them, sometimes even going as far as activism. Former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of those athletes who is used to leveraging his platform for good.
Now, long after his playing days are over, Abdul-Jabbar is still making his opinions known to the public. Among the thoughts he shared are those regarding Colin Kaepernick and the aftermath of the former NFL player who knelt during the national anthem. Abdul-Jabbar even went so far as to state that he thinks other athletes have not stood up to defend Kaepernick for fear of facing the same backlash as him if they speak out.
Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem
Britannica recaps Colin Kaepernick kneeling controversy. It started in the 2016 NFL preseason when Kaepernick started to sit during the playing of the anthem, and he eventually moved on to kneeling. At the time, the quarterback explained the reasons for his decision. “I’m not going to stand up to show flag pride for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. For me, it’s bigger than football.
As the season progressed, other NFL players — and some in other sports — joined Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem, which became a talking point during this year’s presidential election. -the. Kaepernick then led the 49ers to a 1-10 record in his 11 starts that season and hasn’t played another game in the league since then. Although he no longer has the big platform he once had, Kaepernick continues his activism today while trying to get back into the NFL.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discusses lack of athlete support for Kaepernick
In an interview with NPR, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discussed Colin Kaepernick, and the topic of other athletes not supporting Kaepernick came up. The Hall of Famer believes other people had similar views to Kaepernick’s but “didn’t want to face the consequences with other people they knew”, so they remained silent about it. Abdul-Jabbar thinks they thought “he’s probably – he might be right, but I don’t want to have anything to say about it”.
He went on to say that while some guys eventually backed Kaepernick, “sometimes it’s hard for guys to have the guts to make a statement.” It’s especially difficult when it comes to a polarizing issue like race, and players’ merchandise sales could potentially be hurt if they alienate part of their fan base. This potential revenue loss results in players not being as outspoken as athletes of the past, undermining any progress that could be made on the issue if more athletes publicly join Kaepernick.
Abdul-Jabbar’s own story of activism
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is qualified to speak out on the subject of activism because he has a habit of using his popularity to talk about issues that are close to his heart. The Washington Post reminds us that Abdul-Jabbar’s activism included promoting cultural heritage when he was a high school basketball star in Harlem, as well as refusing to compete in the 1968 Summer Olympics because that he didn’t feel “very patriotic” following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy as an activist was forever cemented in 2021 when the NBA presented the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award. He says his criteria for selecting finalists for the honor include “someone who has seen issues, issues…within their community and done something about it using their platform as a professional athlete”.
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