The San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, sparked a nationwide debate and controversy after refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem.
Kaepernick claims he is in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”.
The 28-year-old athlete – whose Twitter page is often the home of a vast array of retweets highlighting the injustice faced by black people – received numerous responses and mentions in favour and against his decision.
The 49ers have since issued a statement about Kaepernick’s decision: “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honour our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.
“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem”.
By taking a stand for civil rights, Kaepernick, joins other athletes, like the NBA’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and several WNBA players in using their platform and status to raise awareness to issues affecting minorities in the US.