Monday, April 22, 2019

Watching the Super Bowl Ignores NFL’s Race Issues

Hendrick Xiong-Calmes ’21

Contributing Writer 

I am one person, and the fact that I did not watch the Super Bowl did not matter at all. However, I do stand by my decision from a moral aspect, rather than an impactful one. In this day and age, I am learning that the actions we make have political consequences. These actions align with our opinions and have consequences. It is my opinion that watching the Super Bowl is no exception to this. Watching the Super Bowl ends up supporting an institution that is not unlike many others; the NFL’s teams comprise an institution which, by abstaining from the decision of what to do with Kaepernick, take a definitive stance against the Black Lives Matter movement. 

I chose not to watch the Super Bowl for numerous reasons, but they can be summed up by one weighted statement: Colin Kaepernick is currently a free agent. No team picked up Kaepernick during the draft, arguably because of Kaepernick’s association with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

For those who may not know, Colin Kaepernick, while quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, began taking a knee during the National Anthem. After a few occurrences of kneeling for the national anthem, Kaepernick was interviewed by NFL Media about it. He stated, “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. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Since the end of the 2016 season, Kaepernick has been a free agent, meaning no team in the NFL has picked him up. There is a clear correlation between Kaepernick not being claimed by a team and the political statements he began making. 

In November 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance that accused the NFL and its owners of collectively keeping him out of the league. As an advocate and activist, I refuse to consume media that does not stand by my morals, and the NFL and the Super Bowl is no exception. Numerous artists turned down the chance to do the halftime show, all in support of Colin Kaepernick. There is a disconnect between Big Boi, Maroon 5, and Travis Scott, all of whom performed at the Super Bowl, and the majority of the music industry in terms of standing behind Kaepernick, a symbol of both freedom of speech and the Black Lives Matter movement. I am aware of the fact that Adam Levine donated a hefty $500k to charity after the Super Bowl performance. But I believe there is a clear disconnect between what Levine and the rest of the performers wanted to do by performing, and the messages that they conveyed to the general public. 

I do begin to wonder why organizations, especially P.R.I.D.E., held Super Bowl watch parties, when the event was such a controversial one; one that directly afflicted the Black Lives Matter movement. The Super Bowl certainly deserves a discourse in the context of Trinity College, and I hope it is one we continue to engage with in the future. 

Leave a reply