The 3Ks

The acronym “KKK” has totally negative connotations; so, I need to use something else today because I do not want to have such a negative overhang on this rant.  Let me adopt the label “3Ks” standing for Kaepernick, Kapler and Kerr.  All three men have an identity/association with the Bay Area in California; all three men have “used their platform” to protest events and practices in our society that they believe to be wrong.  And the reaction to those protests has not been the same for those three men.  As a reset, recall:

  • Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem on the sidelines of NFL games to protest unfair/disparate policing practices in minority neighborhoods.
  • Gabe Kapler chose to remain in the clubhouse during the playing of the National Anthem to protest gun availability in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.
  • Steve Kerr used the occasion of his press conference at an NBA playoff game to call for action to prevent further events like the Uvalde school shooting.

Like most rational people, I am opposed to unfair policing practices and I am opposed to active shooters in schools and shopping malls.  I support the 3Ks in their protests; what they call for is right and proper.  So, why is Colin Kaepernick effectively out of a job while Kapler and Kerr are only suffering minor criticism from some far right individuals/groups?

The most obvious answer is that Kapler and Kerr are white and Kaepernick is not.  Stay with me here; I think that answer is simplistic and incomplete.  Yes, that is a perfect description of the racial/ethnic makeup of those three men; and yes, there is a racial divide in the US; and yes, race does play a part in the different ways folks have reacted to the three men and their protests.  However, I do not think that is the complete answer.

I believe that Colin Kaepernick chose a way to express his protest that allowed people to focus on his act and not on his issue.  While I would not choose to kneel during the National Anthem, I do not take kneeling then to be an outrageously offensive action.  However, others did and still do.  And take a deep breath here – – those folks have as much right to be offended by kneeling during the anthem as Kaepernick had and has to kneel during the anthem.  The problem here is not about who has what rights and who or what has been offended; the problem is that the act of kneeling during the anthem on the sidelines of an NFL game is an example of the idiom, “Right church, wrong pew”.

How did Kapler and Kerr avoid such compromise of their protests – – especially since Kapler’s protest also involved the National Anthem?  Well, Kapler made his protest in a way that did not send a mixed message to those people in the stands and watching on TV who are spring-loaded to be offended by “improprieties” during the anthem.  Kapler simply boycotted the anthem – – as did every person on the planet who was not in attendance or watching on TV at that time.   Moreover, Kapler acted to assure that those folks who are avid anthem supporters would not have an edge to alter the focus of his protest by coming out of the clubhouse and standing for the anthem on Memorial Day showing his support and appreciation for veterans who died in support of their country.  Kaepernick never recovered from the outrage that his protest spawned.

Kerr’s protest came at a press conference proximal to an NBA playoff game.  I suspect that even the biggest NBA fan on Planet Earth does not hold coaches’ press conferences in any sort of idyllic embrace to the point that said fan would be horrified that someone would violate the sanctity of that event by bringing up a school shooting incident.  So, Steve Kerr’s protest was broadcast from “his platform” but in a way that kept the focus on his issue and not how he delivered his message.

You may be thinking at this point in my rant how Colin Kaepernick may have used his position as a starting QB in the NFL to deliver his protest message in a way that may not have offended as many people as it did.  Remember, I am not one of those horribly offended folks.  Well, here is one possible way it might have gone down:

  • First of all, the actions that Kaepernick was protesting do not take place on a football field during a game or during the National Anthem played before that game.  The venue provides wide dissemination of the protest, but the venue is far removed from the actions under protest.
  • So, I believe Kaepernick’s protest would have been even more effective and would certainly have generated less blowback had he taken the protest to a venue which is more germane to the protest – – such as the steps of a police precinct where Kaepernick believed improper policing was happening.
  • The aftermath of his “kneeling protest” showed that there were plenty of other players who agreed with the target of his protest.  He would not have been alone had he organized a group of NFL players to join in that protest.
  • Moreover, NFL players get a day off each week; it is part of the CBA.  So, those protests could have been organized to take place several times a month and would likely have drawn media attention at a place where there was the potential for a “meaningful conversation” regarding the subject under protest.

The 3Ks provide an interesting opportunity for standing back and thinking about how and why some protests are received and supported in US society and why others are less well received/supported.  As I said above, the racial difference among these men may be part of the picture here but I do not think it is the complete answer.  Nor do I think that any of my exposition here had changed the mind of anyone who is still offended by Colin Kaepernick’s “disrespect” for the National Anthem.

But I feel better having said it all…

Finally, since today’s rant tangentially referenced the Uvalde shooting, let me close with some words from Ellen DeGeneres:

“I say to the gun owner who owns an AK-47, if it takes a hundred rounds to bring down a deer, maybe hunting isn’t your sport.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



5 thoughts on “The 3Ks”

  1. Also note – Kaepernick walked away from his job. He chose to become a free agent. He then sued the league when he did not get what he felt was a suitable offer. Seattle was in negotiations that broke down over money. Appears he would not take backup money.

    He was in talks with the Ravens, appeared close – and his camp tweeted something about the owner RAY LEWIS, no stranger to controversy, termed “racist”. End of talks. Another bridge burned.

    He was offered a workout for scouts, closed to the media. A half hour before the workout, he moved it to an area open for media. He wanted a platform more than football.

    Kapler stays in the clubhouse. You do not notice people in the dugouts. Had Kaepernick stayed in the clubhouse, he might have been acceptable.

    Kerr – the NBA is a FAR FAR smaller entity. The typical NFL regular season game draws 50% more than the NBA Finals. Most people are likely still unaware he even took a stance. I only know what i read in your article.

  2. I believe each K used the platform he thought gave him the best chance of communicating his message. You cannot make an argument that any of the three did anything wrong or against the rules of their sport. Only one got punished. He happened to be black. That’s the way it is in the USA.

    1. Doug:

      I hope nothing I said here led you to believe that any of the 3Ks did anything that was wrong or illegal.

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