Colin Kaepernick receives Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award
There are certain iconic images that will forever live in our social collective unconscious of activist athletes who risked their lives, not to mention their careers, to uphold their principles and commitment to their country: Jesse Owens receiving his gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics while a German runner-up beside him gave the Nazi salute. John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their black-gloved fists when receiving their medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to protest injustice and poverty in the African-American community. In 1996, Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf bowing his head in prayer during the national anthem as a protest against racism. In 2014, LeBron James and other NBA players wearing i can’t breathe shirts to protest Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police.
These heroes remind us what true patriotism is: people caring more about protecting the principles of the Constitution than about their own careers, fame, money or even lives. Colin Kaepernick, the recipient of this year’s Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, is one such hero.
What makes Colin so deserving of this award is that he fully embraced all of those risks in order to remind Americans about systemic racism. This is exactly what Muhammad Ali did when, at the height of his boxing career, he refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War. Ali knew that he was not at risk of being sent into combat and could have served as a celebrity soldier. But he insisted on standing up for his principles, even though it cost him millions of dollars and resulted in death threats, harsh attacks from the press and public, the loss of his title and the possibility of prison.
Since Colin first declined to stand for the national anthem on Aug. 14, 2016, to call attention to the astounding number of unarmed African-Americans killed by police, the citizens have responded with both praise and condemnation, just as they always have whenever anyone exercises their right to free speech on a contentious topic. This is the same treatment bold Americans of conscience have always received. People rarely want to hear the truth when that truth reveals problems they don’t want to face. It’s easier to blame the messenger and ignore the message.RufusTFirefly, Pastiche, Baba OhReally and 5 othersPeace Patriot, Yanath, NV Wino, HeartoftheMidwest, GloriaMundi like thisYou've heard of the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West, right? I'm the Morally Ambiguous Witch of the Northwest.
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