Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
When kids are asked who their favourite athletes are or who they look up to, usually their answers would be Connor McDavid, Tom Brady, Steph Curry or someone along those lines.
As kids get older and they reach high school, their favourite athletes change, because they don’t just focus on the statistics or the championships they’ve won. They realize that there’s more to an athlete than just their skills. They realize that there are things going on in the world that are bigger than sports and that matter more than winning a championship.
When athletes reach professional status, there are uncharted territories — sponsorships, interviews, constantly in the eyes of the public and being watched by just about every young kid with a dream to one day be where they are. Athletes and coaches alike use their publicity for many different social or political issues. Coaches like Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich have voiced their concerns about President Donald Trump and questioned the message being sent to American citizens for electing him as a leader. Others such as Mike Babcock, have used his spotlight to emphasize the importance of mental health and raise awareness worldwide for people who suffer.
For the most par, all of those coaches, have been applauded for voicing their opinions. While not everyone will agree with Popovich and Kerr, there are plenty of people who support what they’ve said, and they’re still coaching.
Then, you have someone like Colin Kaepernick, who has been blacklisted by every NFL team because he decided to take a knee during the national anthems prior to games in protest of police brutality and mistreatment of black people and other minorities in the United States.
Last week, Nike released their new ad with Colin Kaepernick at the forefront. In the ad, Kaepernick narrates the story of many athletes, and says that if someone calls your dream crazy, it’s a compliment. While Kaepernick’s dream at one point in time was probably to win a Super Bowl — and maybe he still has that dream — his stance against police brutality and mistreatment of minorities has taken precedence over the latter. Maybe Kaepernick’s dream is for an NFL executive to support his protests, and allow him to sign with their team. Maybe it’s not. Maybe, his dream is that he can be the voice for all people who are suffering from the brutality, wrongdoings, and mistreatment going on in the United States. It’s a crazy dream — and that’s a compliment.
Nike is on the right side of history in putting Kaepernick in the spotlight. While there may be some people who decide to burn their already-purchased Nike socks, or who choose not to buy another Nike product again — there are a heck of a lot more people who are fully behind the message Nike is sending. The right battle is worth fighting, and the athlete who is fighting that battle is one worth getting behind.
So, when it comes to having a spotlight, having the attention of thousands or millions of people, Colin Kaepernick made a choice to believe in what he was protesting. He made a choice to sacrifice everything, so that other people would believe in what he was doing, too. That deserves everything — Kaepernick and Nike are together on the right side of history.