Football & Freedom

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First things first, yes, I am writing a blog post about football. Anyone who knows me knows that this is… well, a little out of character. (I can hear your snickers.) Well, to clear things up, this is a school assignment. And it might actually turn out to be an issue worth thinking about, even if you don’t like football.

Because this isn’t about football. It’s about freedom. 

America has been striving for freedom since, well, before it was America. Back when we were nothing but the 13 British colonies, we longed for freedom. We fought for it and became America. The struggle for freedom has continued for centuries. Freedom from what, you ask? Oh, all sorts of things… sometimes good, sometimes bad.

But one continual struggle has been the struggle for freedom from discrimination. This is the battle fought on the football field at one of the 2016 preseason games.

One day, Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the California 49ers, didn’t stand for the national anthem. Instead, he sat, or, in later games, knelt, in an effort to honor the veterans and those serving in the military while still protesting the anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Mr. Kaepernick, an African American. “I feel like this is bigger than football and it would be selfish of me to look the other way.”

Bigger than football. Wow. From a professional football player, that means something.

Here’s the question: Are Mr. Kaepernick’s actions right?

Think about it from his perspective. As a person of color himself, Mr. Kaepernick knows first-hand the horrors and humiliations of discrimination. Because—guess what, guys?

It’s still a problem.

I could go into how all humans are one race, born of Adam and Eve, and that skin color has to do with nothing but melanin. I could go into three thousand reasons that discrimination has to stop (because it does). But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about freedom (and football, I guess).

The question I do want to discuss is whether Mr. Kaepernick, and others who feel discriminated against, should have the right to protest in this way.

Because, quite frankly, I find it ironic that the very same country that people protest for not giving them freedom is the same country which lets them be free to protest their lack of freedom. (Try doing something like this in another country.) At the same time, I will acknowledge that we have a problem. There’s tons of discrimination and racism in our country, and it’s bad.

So back to the question at hand: Are Mr. Kaepernick’s actions right

I would say, let him protest. He’s no doubt suffered a lot, and he’s fed up with taking it sitting down (or, in this case, standing up). And if America clamps down on a man who protests his lack of freedom, how can it ever claim to be a free country? So let him protest!

But I would also encourage my readers to remember something else: There’s going to be discrimination and racism and lack of freedom in this world. There just is. Because guess what?

The struggle for freedom goes a lot deeper than we realize. 

We live in a fallen world. In the beginning, when God created it, the world was perfect, but then we sinned. When Adam and Eve took those first bites of the forbidden fruit, the perfect world suddenly entered bondage to sin. Suddenly, because of sin, we were no longer free to commune with our holy God. Suddenly, sin permeated the world—because suddenly, humans were slaves to sin.

You see? The bondage that humans face is a whole lot greater than those surface things. The human race (one race) is in bondage to sin.

And that’s when God sent Jesus.

So many people, of so many colors and backgrounds and “races”, have come to America as their hope of freedom from the bondage they face every day. America is, after all, the land of the free and the home of the brave, totally united and equal, where everyone has a chance at the American dream. For so many people, America is their chance at freedom.

Except that for some people, that hasn’t worked out too well. For people like Mr. Kaepernick. Maybe for people like you. For some—lots—of people, America is still a place of bondage. But there’s a reason for that.

America is not the hope of freedom for the human race. Jesus is. 

America is a wonderful country. For all it’s smudges, I thank God that He has put me here. But too many have elevated America in their minds and hearts to be, well, their god. But you know what?

America will never, ever free you. It may offer “freedom,” but one can never be truly free apart from Jesus. 

Jesus, who called Himself the Truth (John 14:6), said, “Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:38). Only Jesus can set you free. 

So let Mr. Kaepernick protest. He certainly has a reason. But if he truly wants to be free, he’ll forget about kneeling through the national anthem and get on his knees before the only One who can truly set him free. Why protest a country that will never completely free you when you could take hold of the freedom that Jesus offers?

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