Primary File

Kaepernick’s Kneeling: “Dumb and Disrespectful” or Social Activism?

Asbjorn Osland, San Jose State University, Lori Luo, San Jose State University, Andy Borchers, Lipscomb University
August 10, 2020
North America
Ethics & Social Justice, Marketing & Sales
6 pages
civil rights, social protest, sports marketing, racial conflict
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.69)
Average rating: 

The public may punish public figures whose demonstrations appear disrespectful. From the perspective of many observers, Colin Kaepernick had played well enough in the past to have been signed to an NFL team, at least as a backup quarterback. He became a free agent in March 2017 but no team had signed him as of January 28, 2019. He had protested civil rights abuses by refusing to stand for the national anthem during the 2016 season. How could Kaepernick reconcile playing football, if it meant curtailing his protest, with his desire to be a civil rights activist who supported organizations working to improve civil rights?

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Evaluate conflicting goals of social protest versus being a dutiful employee seeking to maximize entertainment value within the NFL.
  2. Evaluate what choice to make: Continue the legal challenge or try to settle and appear conciliatory to NFL owners.
  3. Evaluate the efficacy of Kaepernick’s action in terms of advancing the national discussion on race.