Kaepernick, Nike, Protests: Divergent Views


Matthew Byers

JAHS quaterback Iraken Armstead

Claire Stowe, Editor-in-Chief

It started with Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the National Anthem two years ago. Then other NFL players joined in, starting a movement protesting racism and police brutality in America. Now, Nike has released a new advertisement featuring Colin Kaepernick, with quite a variety of negative and positive reactions.

There have been many varying responses to both Kaepernick’s protest and Nike’s support, ranging from full support of the ideals and methods to feeling disrespect for the country and flag. These reactions have come all the way down to Adams, as many throughout the community have formed opinions.  

Daniel Walsh, an Adams science teacher who served in the military prior to teaching, finds this method of protest disrespectful. “I served specifically to help allow people to have freedom of choice and freedom of speech,” Walsh commented. “But there’s an appropriate time and a place to do that, and I don’t think that the National Anthem personally is the time and place.” Iraken Armstead, an Adams Junior and the quarterback of the football team, has a different perspective. “I feel that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is just as fine and patriotic as someone who stands during the national anthem. We live in a country where we can march and protest against what you or a group of people think is wrong. NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is just trying to get everyone’s attention and let them know that unarmed black males are being killed and nothing is being done to get justice for their deaths.” Armstead continued by further explaining the situation surrounding the recent killings of unarmed African-Americans. “How would you react if your brother, uncle, son, or grandchild’s life was taken by a person of authority and nothing happened afterwards? Would you say ‘Okay, forget it’ or do something about it?” He asked.

In regards to the recent Nike advertisement, “National Anthem, I think is the wrong spot, but advertisement and marketing is probably a good place to [protest],” Walsh commented. “That gives [Kaepernick] a platform from which he can actually touch more people. […] I think Nike has done a lot of good things to donate money to certain agencies. Personally I think that’s a good way to do it instead of a negative way.” Armstead’s beliefs are not all too different. He also finds the Nike advertisement a valuable form of protest and “very inspiring.” Armstead mentioned that “I like the way they use [Kaepernick] in the commercial. He gave up everything just for racial justice. He went through adversity just like how all those other athletes [faced] adversity.”

When asked how he responds to the recent NFL and Nike boycotts, Armstead said he “would first ask ‘why’ then ‘do you understand why they are doing what they are doing?’ There is not much I can do but try to get them to understand both sides of the story, and if they don’t want to hear what I have to say, then go ahead.”

Walsh concluded with a pointed statement on the nature of the NFL players. “I think that some of those guys are spoiled prima donnas,” he commented, “and overpaid and overhyped. I’d like to see some of them come out and actually do some things on behalf of this other than just stand there and raise their hand.”