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Super Bowl Halftime performers are selling out

NFL+players+have+been+protesting+the+national+anthem+for+over+a+year+by+kneeling+or+raising+fists.+Graphic+courtesy+of+Patrick+D%C3%B3%C3%B1ez+%28%2721%29
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Super Bowl Halftime performers are selling out

NFL players have been protesting the national anthem for over a year by kneeling or raising fists. Graphic courtesy of Patrick Dóñez ('21)

NFL players have been protesting the national anthem for over a year by kneeling or raising fists. Graphic courtesy of Patrick Dóñez ('21)

NFL players have been protesting the national anthem for over a year by kneeling or raising fists. Graphic courtesy of Patrick Dóñez ('21)

NFL players have been protesting the national anthem for over a year by kneeling or raising fists. Graphic courtesy of Patrick Dóñez ('21)

The Super Bowl is one of the country’s most widely viewed television events. Over the last few years, the NFL has faced constant criticism because of its handling of social justice issues such as police brutality and domestic violence. The league hoped that the final game of the season would be free of controversy, but the halftime show, what is supposed to be the most lighthearted part of the evening, is a matter of intense debate.

Super Bowl 53’s halftime show will be headlined by pop-rock band Maroon 5 and rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Their choice to perform has been widely criticized. One Change.org petition for Maroon 5 to drop the show has over 110,000 signatures. Artists like Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Meek Mill refused to perform in solidarity with Kaepernick, and have asked their colleagues to do the same.

It seems that by showcasing black artists like Scott, the NFL is pandering to fans who support Kaepernick. Scott was able to get the league to match his $500k donation to Dream Corps, a non-profit that champions social justice causes, but throwing money at the issues Kaepernick supports will not solve the NFL’s problems.

If commissioner Roger Goodell and the team owners really cared about the issues important to the players, they would not need massive backlash to make a change. The same is true of Scott, Big Boi, and even Maroon 5. If they really stand with Kaepernick and other players, they would not stand with NFL.

To say that the NFL has had a bad few years would be an understatement. Debilitating head injuries, inconsistent officiating, and a startling lack of diversity amongst coaches and executivescall plague the league. What is worse is that this controversy has raged for the better part of a decade. Then, in 2016, Colin Kaepernick ignited the sports world by refusing to stand for the national anthem. This decision made a huge impact on Kaepernick’s career and sparked a national discussion around police brutality, patriotism, the military, and activism in the workplace.

When asked in a postgame interview to explain his decision to sit for the anthem during the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason game, Kaepernick said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” He went on to argue that to him, the American flag was a symbol of oppression, particularly police brutality. Kaepernick was soon joined by teammate Eric Reid in kneeling for the anthem, and before long, dozens of professional athletes were kneeling or linking arms in solidarity with their colleagues.

On March 3rd, 2017, Kaepernick officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, expecting to be released anyway, and began to look for a new job in the NFL as a free agent. Based solely on his production on the football field, he should definitely be employed by now, at least as a backup quarterback. Of the 47 quarterbacks who started a game in 2017, only 16 outperformed Kaepernick in terms of quarterback rating, leading many to believe that he is being kept out of the league in retaliation for his protests. Public figures from NFL owners to President Trump have been critical of the protests, calling them disruptive, unpatriotic, and disrespectful to the flag and military.

But Colin Kaepernick is right. The NFL is a league with a 70%  black player-base, where less than 20% of the coaches and front office executives are black. It is known for being especially insensitive to issues of diversity, player safety, or social issues like domestic violence.

The league takes millions of dollars from the Department of Defense every year to perform exaggerated displays of coercive patriotism and “flag-kissing.” Meanwhile, Kaepernick has raised and donated millions of dollars to charities benefiting communities of color and created awareness for often overlooked social issues.

Kaepernick should be an NFL quarterback, and he is not, which brings us to the 2019 Super Bowl.  Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi should never have accepted the invitation to perform, but if they support Kaepernick and the issues he stands for, they should use the platform to make a statement.

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About the Writer
Patrick Dóñez, Staff Writer

Patrick Doñez (‘21) is a staff writer for the Webb Canyon Chronicle. He has lived in Upland, California since he was five years old. Patrick is interested...

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