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Colin Kaepernick and Political Discourse

Info: 6129 words (25 pages) Essay
Published: 5th Nov 2021 in Politics

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Introduction

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, sat quietly during a Star-Spangled Banner rendition during the 2016 National Football League (NFL) preseason. Kaepernick's failure to stand during the anthem, which he later revealed was a political gesture aimed at drawing attention to excessive violence against people of color and racial oppression in the U.S., breached the nationalism that permeates much of current U.S. culture. From that day on, Kaepernick would be at the center of civil rights discussions both regarding the NFL, and otherwise. Leaders in sports media, media figures, writers, as well as members of the public, called on Kaepernick to explain his actions.

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Recent social media studies have explored media bias in the reporting of political protest movements and race issues in athletics, but there has been no better time in history to truly merge these two topics until now. This essay discusses media coverage of the protests against the San Francisco 49 national anthems between August 2016 and February 2018. Research showed that while protesters emphasized their core values of patriotism, exposure of the government and key figures such as Donald Trump (and Colin Kaepernick) increased. Also, there have been few differences in support of protests between local and national sources. Nonetheless, local sources have provided a broader viewpoint that helps readers to perceive the problems and controversies around the demonstrations as regional outlets. These results suggest that progress has been made in covering such types of events in the media, but forces that are not connected to the cause of the protest can still alter it. Hopefully, the results of this study will also inspire more investigations into the media coverage regarding race-related marches, social movements in sport and the NFL National Protest Anthem Movement.

Theoretical Framework

A media analysis framework was used in this research. According to work related to social movements and collective action, social movements must have common awareness to organize change (Benford & Snow, 2000). Media frames need to articulate social problems as well as potential solutions for target audiences; identify the credibility of key actors by cultural resonance, and redefine context if necessary. Press frameworks will articulate social issues as well as potential solutions for target groups; convey main individual legitimacy by cultural relevance, and redefine problem context as necessary. (Benford & Snow, 2000)

Abstract

For the casual observer, the NFL itself may seem to be at the heart of this issue. But there is one group at the heart of this protest movement: the San Francisco 49ers. From the first photo of Colin Kaepernick in the third pre-season match in 2016 until now, at least one or more players took part in one demonstration or another. At least a dozen or more 49 players kneeled in multiple games in the 2017 season in protest. The team was also at the center of the second spat between the NFL and the administration of Trump when Vice President Mike Pence tweeted to see players kneeling during their anthem and to leave a match between the 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts. NFL protest media coverage was extensive. The reporting by non-sport media outlets for the third and fourth weeks of the NFL season was not about the players, but about the demonstrations. But was this reporting rational? Did readers get the truth about the demonstrations, or merely the media outlet's opinion? Are the news media viewers seeing the true reasons behind the intensity of public activism or just one side of the story? Where there is a media bias, does it differ from source to source, and does location, audience, and coverage area make a difference in its impact?

These questions form the basis of a research analysis of the media coverage on the national anthem protests in San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers were the research team examined because the whole NFL protest movement was central, which began while Colin Kaepernick was playing for them. The following research highlights many key points that involve this type of study.

Literature Review

The first important factor to note is the connection that football has both culturally and socially to American society. According to Martin, "We inhabit a world in which sport is an international phenomenon. Politicians and world leaders need to be associated with sports personalities; it contributes to the economy; some of the most visible international spectacles are associated with sporting events; it is part of the social and cultural fabric of different localities, regions, and nations; its transformative potential remains evident in some of the poorest areas of the world; it is important to the television and film industry, and the tourist industry; and it is regularly associated with social problems and issues such as crime, health, violence, social inequality, labor migration, economic and social regeneration, and poverty" (Jarvie, 2012) Without realizing that sport means different things to different groups of people or that different policies or forms of social mobilization are intended to empower different groups of people, it is impossible to think about sport, culture, and society. The definitions that often split sport include race, religion, sex, age, citizenship, black or white, European or non-European, and physically impaired or disabled. Many of these social divisions have become separatist, failing to recognize the connection in the sport between and within various forms of social inequality. (Jarvie, 2012)

Athletes, players, managers, and owners are not excluded from all the social ills that impact the wider society, including matters of racial injustice. There has been much discussion about the extent to which black athletes are engaged in issues of social justice today and are connected to society. Colin Kaepernick's public protests and other high-profile athletes, which began in the summer of 2016, have restored conversations regarding the current role of football in what might be called 'unconventional' forms of protest despite being peaceful. According to many Americans, athletes and fans alike are expected to stand as a show of honor and respect for the flag, nation, and both symbolize idealized values.

(Martin, 2018) Kaepernick's protest, however, and others like it are mere manifestations of racial inequality as a systemic and social problem, and have informed conversations about similarities between today's African American community, (including black athletes like Colin Kaepernick), and the tolerated exploitation of Black's in prior decades.

Kaepernick's treatment after the incident demonstrated this in numerous ways as he faced both unemployment and public criticism. "Colin Kaepernick sought to demonstrate his free agency in both meanings of the term. On the one hand, he sought to pursue his right to sign with a team other than the San Francisco 49ers when his contract ended. On the other hand, he sought to use his free agency to be seen as a total human being - to elucidate issues facing black people in America, including the unjust killings of black men by law enforcement officials and vigilantes. Kaepernick desired to use his highprofile position to join the outcries of many people in the larger black community about the lack of racial progress over the years, outcries, which often fell on deaf ears. Debates about what racial progress looks like and about whether or not racial progress will likely continue in the foreseeable future. What is certain, is that more African American citizens have committed, or recommitted their efforts to resist private actions and public policies that disadvantage black people and other people of color. Athletes such as Colin Kaepernick are great examples of this commitment. Adaptive activist athletes have not only demonstrated a renewed commitment to civic engagement but also the exercise of their agency, thus highlighting the limits of racial progress in America." (Martin, 2018)

Why Protest?

What social justice problems does Kaepernick refer to when referencing social justice, and race inequality issues? Let us examine the Alton Sterling case, one that Kapernickc spoke on as an example of police brutality. Sterling was a 37-year-old, father of five, and a long-time resident of Baton Rouge. He was shot at close range while on the ground at the corner of Fairfields and North Foster Drive in front of the Triple S Food Market. In the case of Alton Sterling, officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake, II was said to respond to a report from someone with a gun that threatened people outside a store around 12:30 am. The officers contend that Alton Sterling has not complied with their instructions. They also contest that they saw a firearm in the pocket of Sterling and that Sterling reached for the weapon as they fought on the ground. (Martin, 2018) The Associated Press confirmed that Sterling was tasered multiple times before being shot at least three times Alton Sterling was shot in his back. "According to the BRPD, the body cameras fell off in the encounter with Alton Sterling. The actual shooting was captured on two cell phone videos." (Martin, 2018) Both officers involved in the shooting had received complaints about excessive use of force in the past, however, the state ruled that there was no enough evidence to indict the officers. (Martin, 2018)

The article details the impact that the incident had on the community and the national media. "The City of Baton Rouge and other cities across the country erupted in protests. Many people were arrested in the protests and even filed legal action against the police department, based upon reporting by Chris Sommerfeldt. The protesters accused officers of being too aggressive, using unconstitutional methods and hindering their rights to freedom of speech and the right to assemble peacefully (Sommerfeldt). A settlement was reached between the city and the protesters in the amount of $100,000 with each of the 92 plaintiffs expected to receive about $230. The protesters, which included some closely associated with the national #BlackLivesMatter movement, were originally charged with obstructing a roadway and engaging in disorderly conduct. While the overwhelming majority of the city's Metro Council voted in support of the settlement, Metro Councilmember John Delgado voted against it because be believed such settlements "encourage protesters to act recklessly in the future," and expressed "no interest in paying $100,000 in taxpayer dollars to people who are coming into our city to protest" (Martin, 2018)

A second incident discussed in this article was the Philando Castile killing. "Philandro Castile was shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez in Minnesota only one day after the killing of Alton Sterling. Castile was riding in a car with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. Yanez shot Castile shortly after Philandro Castile informed him that he had a weapon while Castile's girlfriend broadcasted the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live (Karnowski). With total disregard for the safety of the girlfriend and the four-year-old or the humanity of anyone in the vehicle." (Martin, 2018) After the Facebook video circulated the internet, social outrage burst across the nation. The public was repulsed by the fact that a father, revered community member, and cafeteria worker was killed despite making any physically threatening advances towards police. Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile were only two of the 260 people killed by police during the year Kaepernick started his protest. "Like many other officer-involved shootings, Yanez was not found guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philandro Castile, reports Nick Visser in his article, "5 Disturbing Statements." Yanez was encouraged to leave the force and received a buyout in the amount of at least $48,500, acknowledges Amy Forlitit in her article "Police Officer Who Shot Philandro Castile." Sadly, Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile were only two of the nearly 260 people killed by police during the year Kaepernick started his protest. Of the at least 258 people killed by police in 2016, 39 were unarmed, 4 died after the use of stun guns, and 9 died in custody (Craven, "More than 250). Most of the black people killed by police were shot to death. According to the article, about one-third of the unarmed people killed in 2016 were black men, although black men only make up about six percent of the population. It is not hard to see why Kaepernick and others were motivated to do something even if they were not sure that their particular actions would lead to transformative changes."(Martin, 2018)

Race Discussions and Sports Media

Common themes were found in the examination of the literature on race discussions in sports media. First of all, there were differences in how different race athletes were covered, particularly between white and African-American athletes. The second theme noticed was that common descriptors were seen across different sports and different types of occurrences while addressing white and AfricanAmerican competitors. Billings (2003) looked at media portrayals of Tiger Woods, the only popular African-American golfer on the PGA tour for most of his life. Woods athleticism was his overwhelmingly primary positive descriptor, citing white golfers being referred to more for their cerebral qualities (Billings 2003). Commentators, however, would also comment during his wins on his "golf IQ" and mental qualities but would discuss their lack when he loses (Billings 2003). In the study of football coverage for white and African-American players, the same patterns are noticed. Billings (2004) also identified strength in another analysis as the prevailing favorable attribute of print media reporting of African-American quarterbacks. Athleticism, referred to as an uncontrollable attribute, was not used for white quarterbacks, who praised overcoming a lack of athleticism for their hard work (a controllable attribute) (Billings 2004). Billings did not find a noticeable difference in how print media spoke of white and African-American quarterbacks in terms of positive mental qualities (Billings 2004). Byrd and Utsler (2007) found similar gaps in African-American vs. white quarterbacks exposure, stating that the discrimination had changed. A review of the coverage of the NFL Draft by Sports Illustrated from 1998-2007 also found the same bias present for African-American vs. white quarterbacks descriptions (Mercurio et al 2010). The media coverage of African-American athletes in the NFL showed additional biases.

Another infamous case happened in 2003 when Rush Limbaugh derided the press for having increased interest in the performance of African-American players and coaches, especially the Donovan McNabb quarterback from Philadelphia Eagles (Hartmann 2007). At that point, Limbaugh served with ESPN and left immediately after making those comments (Hartmann 2007). Throughout 2014, Seattle Seahawks ' Richard Sherman gave an impassioned post-game speech in which the San Francisco 49ers team was lambasted and proclaimed himself one of the top cornerbacks of the NFL (Tompkins 2016). In response to this interview, dueling narratives emerged; the first was an eruption of racist remarks on Twitter aimed at Sherman. The second came from the media, which ran from being a kid growing up in Compton to a Stanford graduate and All-Pro NFL cornerback (Tompkins 2016) through multiple stories on Sherman's rise. The author cites these dueling narratives as a prime example of America's AfricanAmerican sports celebrity dichotomy (Tompkins 2016). Previous work on the interpretation of the initial demonstration by Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season served as the foundation for this report.

Unlike previous research on sports and social media reporting of ethnicity, Coombs, Lambert, and Humphries (2017) describe specific trends within the analysis of the national anthem controversy. These six frameworks include virality (the pace at which the protest spread digitally over the internet), power and influence, individual action, professional threat, and deflection/distraction (Coombs et al 2017). Protest news spread quickly, reflecting on it by many celebrities, including former NFL players and competitors often involved in other sports (Coombs et al 2017). Coverage has centered on the opposing viewpoints of prominent politicians and power players, with conservative politicians disrespecting the army using the common theme of it (Coombs et al 2017). In contrast, reporting centered on Kaepernick himself, spanning from what his reasons are for such an intervention, his history, the threat it presented to his life, and on him as a soccer player (Coombs et al 2017). The final frame found was one of deflection and distraction by which the protest coverage focused mostly on the act itself, not the larger issue of police excessive use of force against minorities (Coombs et al 2017).

Media and It's Relationship to Social Justice Movements

There are commonplace themes in how media document marches and campaigns for social justice as well. It changed into a medium for regularly depicted marches and campaigns for social justice. Researchers observed that the reporting portrayed created a "reputation quo" (McLeod et al 1999). How the media provided the protest tales made the target market extra important of the protesters and much less probably to identify with them, much less important of the police, and much less probable to help the rights of the protesters (McLeod et al 1999). Such prejudices can also be slightly different throughout print and television news. In an analysis of the demonstrations in Washington D.C., Smith, McCarthy, McPhail, and Augustyn (2001) showed that they're often portrayed in negative terms, as protesting corporations and pursuing public interest are their goal. The research hypothesizes that this could be due in component to a selection bias, (where-in the press picks out the protests to document and which not to), and a presentation bias in which numerous regulations (time, personnel, money, and so forth.) restrict the quantity of publicity that the media can provide to a protest. (McCarthy et al 2001). Smith said that news retailers are eight times more likely to cover more thematic than newspaper demonstrations, with print media a quarter extra at risk of illustrating the troubles behind the demonstration as opposed to what occurs for the duration of the actual protest (McCarthy et al 2001).

In contrast, some abuse and counter-protesting incidents have ruled the reporting of the movement as the troubles behind it (McCarthy et al 2001). Greater research at the reporting of political/social justice movements has recognized problems together with demonstration publicity. studies on reporting of the social justice movement achieved in 2006 observed that media coverage of demonstrators changed into beneficial if the campaign, the troubles at the back of it, and how it became accomplished had been like-minded with the leanings of the supply (Boykoff 2006). further to the adverse framing of the protesters, the most not unusual frame found turned into an observation on violence or loss of violence (Boykoff 2006). If it befell, news of protest violence took over-reporting at the same time as the absence of it was listed anyplace possible whilst there has been no violence (Boykoff 2006). Cissel (2012) recognized versions in how the protest is portrayed between traditional and unbiased media sources whilst reading reporting of the Occupy Wall road motion. Mainstream outlets inclusive of Fox information, The Wall St magazine and the NY put up discovered the movement to be disorganized and perplexing of their intent, even as impartial assets inclusive of mom Jones and Democracy Now praised the protesters ' power and variety and the reasons at the back of their protests (Cissel 2012). Attributions to the protests ' cause of violence also differed, with protesters being blamed using mainstream sources even as the police were blamed through unbiased outlets (Cissel 2012).

Kaepernick and Persistence in Activism

Activism by Colin Kaepernick inspired others to talk about the hard task that remains in the united states' racial inequality. Kaepernick is a brand new era of governance via which individuals are not people in positions of electricity, expertise by way of personifying a tradition this is available to anyone at any second. Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Graslow, and Marty Linsky outline adaptive management as "the process of mobilizing humans to address and be triumphant on tough challenges." Adaptive leadership's objective is to have a fine effect on society. Adaptive control attracts on past enjoy and requires creativity. This depends on equality and goals to displace, re-adjust, and rearrange Heifetz and his coauthors substantially. Many interested in leadership schooling understand that systemic trade takes time and that methods are not fallacious expertise run within the way people who benefit from the systems want them to characteristic. there is no crisis there. systems are designed to yield consequences (cf. Heifetz, Graslow, and Linsky).

Adaptive leaders aren't a hit and need to not anticipate help due to the fact "no person might be commonplace in a group (or the USA) that tries to identify or restore the chaos" (Heifetz, Graslow, and Linsky five). People in energy positions opt for "to try something new in which the outcomes are unpredictable and are probably to involve losses to key parties." All primary players must be prepared to exchange their loyalties, dreams, values, and behaviors. manifestly, changing laws in us did no longer partially get rid of racial disparities as converting laws to promote racial equality and/or convey racial trade is a technical approach to an evolutionary challenge33e. Adaptive management requires expertise in how technical and adaptive demanding situations fluctuate. Kaepernick understood the difference between technical and adaptive problems and the sort of responses required by using every. Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky describe technical troubles as "issues that may be solved through applying existing and the modern-day problem-solving strategies of the employer."

Kaepernick, an elite athlete, genuinely knew knowledge make adjustments to enhance his overall performance. Adaptive stuff, on the alternative aspect, "needs individuals[...] to trade their methods[...] because the question is the residents themselves, the solution lies with them." Kaepernick's purpose to tackle the united states' racial inequality crisis couldn't be addressed in element with a technological remedy because a few humans did no longer see racial inequality as a problem. The proactive method of Kaepernick becomes to raise focus on racial inequality and to encourage people in electricity systems to transport on building a greater inclusive society. Heifetz and Linsky caution that policy advocates can be immediately attacked in an attempt try to shift the discussion on your character and fashion and prevent discussing the difficulty."

There are numerous times of assaults on the character and fashion of Kaepernick by figures like Michael Vick to the former U.S. army widespread. there may be a reason NFL owners should goal reform advocates like Kaepernick's photo. "In trying to cut you down, people are seeking to restore order, keep what they learn, and defend themselves from the pressures of an evolutionary transition. They want to be secure again and you are inside the manner, "upload Heifetz and Linsky," whilst the status quo receives disillusioned, humans experience an experience of deep loss and shattered expectancies. We may fit via an inept or disloyal time of thinking. it is no surprise they're resisting the alternate or looking to do away with their seen agent.

Rhetorical Analysis

In the Colin Kaepernick situation, the fittest aspect to examine first in the matter of rhetoric is social media. Social Media can 'teach' concepts to the masses. It is a learning tool that does not discriminate by subject matter. This notion is also referred to as crowd learning, or the act of learning using online collaboration, social interaction, and promotion of ideas. "The use of social media, from an educational perspective, is part of a long human tradition of crowd learning. Scholars Jon Dron and Terry Anderson (2014) state in their book Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media, "Historically, learning was nearly always with and from a crowd: methods, tools, customs, dances, music and stories, whether prototypical or fully formed, all played a role in establishing a collective, learned culture" (p. 5). Social media is an excellent tool to reinforce these old traditions of crowd learning. (Boyce, 2017)

In this context, I assert that social media acts as a teacher of cultural and racial perceptions to society, using rhetoric. "The grotesque protest—emboldened through social media—employs the body's fluids to push back against attempts to legislate bodies. Although social media use is commonly understood as engaging audience members who share ideological frames, it can instead diversify protest networks and encourage discourse. Social media provides individuals opportunities to resist attempts to control bodies and to reinsert individuals' voices in political discourse aimed to exclude those bodies." (Bivens, Cole, 2017)

Social Media allows for constant and diverse steam of conversation to flow, leading to the creations of political communities within social networks themselves, and more readily available access to information (regardless of accuracy). Rhetoric in itself is a tool of persuasion, and persuasion provides a feeling of emotional satisfaction and ideological reinforcement among those who already share similar beliefs or values. Perhaps the clearest example of effective rhetoric usage in the Colin Kaepernick controversy is through the airing of the Nike Advertisement which he was featured in, which featured heavy usage of both ethos and pathos.

Nike's commercial only contains one text sentence so it must depend on implied social contexts to make its position clear to audiences. The ad reads "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything." The authors use pathos to invoke a certain emotional response, by appealing to one's desire for inspiration, and motivation, by using a prominent public figure who symbolized the argument that the advertisement was made. The view should Ideally realize that Nike quite literally supports the notion of sacrificing everything that you deem to be important, for something you passionately believe. Of course, the advertisement circulated throughout social media, which led to public criticism. "The Colin Kaepernick saga is, in effect, part of a long tradition of the American mainstream condemning African American athletes who challenge the racial social order. If one examines the sociopolitical order of Jack Johnson's time, one would find some striking similarities to the atmosphere of Kaepernick's world. Johnson's reign (1908– 1915) coincidentally fell within the nadir of race relations in the United States. At the time, racial segregation was constitutional, therefore sanctioning Jim Crow laws (Plessey v. Ferguson, 1896); (Boyce, 2017)

Essentially, the ethos in the advertisement is meant to enforce the idea that negative reinforcement towards one's choices and decisions should be ignored if one wishes to achieve happiness. From a logos perspective, Nike uses the idea that sacrificing everything for something you believe in and presents it as an ideology. While the ad can easily trigger emotional reactions due to the sensitivity of the Colin Kaepernick controversy, it can also make viewers rethink or reinforce ideologies they already have. The very fact that Colin Kaepernick was in a Nike advertisement, can be the reason for a viewer to reinforce their ideas. Additionally, Nike tried to appeal to those who know Colin Kaepernick's situation. Those who are familiar with the controversy may even be able separate the advertisement itself from its message, and realize that it is not simply an argument for individuality among the consumer, but that it is also a reflection of Nike's values.

The effectiveness of these rhetoric types is determined by the context. A challenge facing our current political climate is the prevalence of echo-chambers or social communities where there is a low variation of opposing political viewpoints. The echo chamber effect happens online because of participants at on-line discussions may get their beliefs "echoed" back to them, which reinforces their belief systems. Yet, people who act in echo chambers frequently do so because they seem more confident that their beliefs can be more readily accepted by others at the echo chamber. This occurs because the Internet has allowed access to a wide variety of readily accessible data. People are increasingly getting their information on-line through untraditional references, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, that have demonstrated personalization algorithms that provide particular data to individuals' online feeds. The method of curating content has replaced much use of conventional information research. Echo chambers have emerged as an issue of concern in the political discourse of democratic countries.

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There is growing concern that, as citizens become more polarized about political issues, they do not hear the arguments of the opposite side, but are rather surrounded by people and news sources who express only opinions they agree with (Garimella, Gionis, De Francisci Morales, Mathioudakis, 2018) As previously stated, social media can function as a teacher of sorts, when people embrace material they see online. "Echo chambers. The term refers to situations where people "hear their voice" — or, particularly in the context of social media, situations where users consume content that expresses the same point of view that users themselves hold or express. Echo chambers have been shown to exist in various forms of online media such as blogs [21, 37], forums [13], and social media sites [7, 23, 35]. Previous studies have tried to quantify the extent to which echo chambers exist online. For example, in the context of blogs, Gilbert et al. [21] study the comments on a set of political blogs and find that comments disproportionately agree with the author of the blog post.

Similar findings were reported by Lawrence et al. [26], who found that partisan bloggers engage with blogs of a narrow spectrum of political views, which agreed with their own. In the context of Twitter, An et al. [2] analyzed the activity of users who engage with political news, and found that "90% of the users [directly follow] news media of only one political leaning", while "their friends' retweets lead them to diversify their news consumption"(Garimella, Gionis, De Francisci Morales, Mathioudakis, 2018)

In the context of Facebook, Bakshy, et al. [4] measure the degree to which users with declared political affiliations consume cross-cutting content, i.e., content predominantly posted by users of opposing political affiliation. Content consumption is studied at three levels:

(i) potential exposure, which includes all content shared by the friends of a user;

(ii) exposure, which includes all content appearing in the feed of a user; and

(iii) engagement, which includes all content that a user clicks.

The study finds that, even though users are exposed to a significant amount of cross-cutting content, users opt to engage with less cross-cutting content, behavior compatible with the theory of biased assimilation." (Garimella, Gionis, De Francisci Morales, Mathioudakis, 2018)

Conclusion

With any research, we must ask the question: what does all of this mean? The Kaepernick controversy tells us a lot about our current state of race and politics in society. Colin Kapernick, the legendary quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has managed to engage millions of Americans in political discourse and further the protest movement against social injustice. He also encouraged millions of other people to urge the country to live up to the values that the flag should represent. What we do need to watch for, is a form of racism that is rationalized. One that is justified by social norms and misconceptions Despite public hate, Kaepernick managed to reap many benefits from the like his deal with Adidas. Kaepernick's vision is the name of one of the famous ads "Just Do It" by many celebrities. The former NFL star 'did it' in almost two years without attempting a single pass. His actions can serve as reassurance that difficult circumstances still can make positive change if addressed positively and productively.

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