The Kaepernick Effect

Sept. 4, 2018
Are we seeing something I’m going to call “The Kaepernick Effect?” That is to say, when big businesses back Kaepernick’s “protest” and, as a result, lose huge chunks of profit?

After the protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darin Wilson, there came to be known something called “The Ferguson Effect.” It centered around how public protest (rioting) could result from the efficient and professional performance of law enforcement duties and, due to that backlash, how proactive law enforcement efforts had been reduced. The natural result of that was an increase in crime. So ultimately the final effect of The Ferguson Effect was an increase in crime in many places.

Now we’re seeing something I’m going to call “The Kaepernick Effect.” That is to say, when big businesses back Kaepernick’s “protest” and, as a result, lose huge chunks of profit. We have to wait and see if this comes to fruition, but we can trust that the mainstream media will report on it as they drool over ad rates and their own increase in profits.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem during a nationally televised NFL game it caused quite a stir. There are a great many mixed feelings about it. In the beginning, when he first did this and people asked why, he replied that he was protesting the oppression of black people in America and stated that he wouldn’t stand for the National Anthem until the country changed to reduce or remove racism. Later there was further clarification of his position that the “oppression” he specifically was protesting was police brutality, especially and specifically toward people of color. Other NFL players joined Kaepernick in his protest.

The NFL had to have had mixed emotions about the response of America. Certainly they were getting more free advertising than ever before as the mainstream media (MSM) gave them more and more screen time to cover the protest and support thereof or the backlash in response to. A rather large movement to boycott the NFL was begun as was the argument as to whether or not Kaepernick’s actions were protected by the First Amendment.

Now, here’s the thing, and understand as you read this that the author (me, Frank Borelli) is a military veteran as well as veteran police officer. I have taken oaths that bind me to protecting the rights of ALL Americans and never once did any oath I took specify a nationality, race, religion, etc. I took and continue to take those oaths very seriously.

So, here’s the thing: I firmly believe that the First Amendment gives people the right to express themselves in a peaceful fashion and few things are as peaceful as taking a knee. Kaepernick was at least creative in doing something no one else had done as a protest. Yes, I believe Kaepernick has as much right to protest as anyone else and even if what he’s saying pisses me off to no end, I have a DUTY to defend his right to protest. Of course, there are a few more considerations that come into play where the NFL and Kaepernick’s protest is concerned.

First, this isn’t the only time an NFL player has taken a knee to express his beliefs. Tim Tebow did it to express his belief in God and the NFL didn’t accept it as an exercise of his First Amendment right. Tim Tebow was attacked by many in the public and the MSM for having the audacity to “force his beliefs on others” as he expressed his thanks to God for his blessings. At a bare minimum, if Tebow can’t take a knee but Kaepernick can then it seems clear there is either an agenda, favoritism or racism being practiced by the NFL.

Second, every time a team or its members wanted to modify or add to its uniform in support of anything other than breast cancer or autism they’ve been fined or prohibited. Design that commemorates the attacks of nine-eleven? Prohibited. Decal on the helmet that honors assassinated Dallas PD officers? Prohibited. One of those efforts was obviously purely American and the other was pro-law-enforcement. Heaven forbid the NFL back either of those, right? But let one player “express himself” in one motion against both the country AND law enforcement and the NFL refuses to touch him.

Third, the practice of your First Amendment freedom of expression often ends at the door when you go to work. What I could say and couldn’t say, could talk about or couldn’t talk about and more was restricted while I was on duty no matter what uniform I was wearing. It is not uncommon, nor is it a violation of the First Amendment, for employers to restrict what can or can’t be talked about while employees are working. For the NFL to hide behind, “it’s his First Amendment right,” and not take any action is as cowardly as… well… only expressing your beliefs while on national television inside a well-guarded stadium and further inside a restricted access area. Let’s be honest – the only threat Kaepernick faced was retribution from other players… if he ever made it onto the field (something he hadn’t been doing much of, which might have been part of his motivation to garner more attention).

Interestingly, there was a very large boycott started against the NFL and not only by law enforcement professionals or their supporters. Kaepernick’s protest against an oppressive America, and his utter disrespect to the flag and anthem in the process, wasn’t appreciated by a great many citizens. The boycott was enough to impact the NFL as lower ratings and lower profits were reported. Kaepernick, as a free agent, and again of great interest to me, wasn’t signed on… anywhere. Just recently the Seattle Seahawks were looking at him but chose to sign a relatively unknown quarterback instead. According to USA Today Kaepernick’s workout with the Seahawks was cancelled after he refused to commit to NOT taking a knee during the pregame anthems. Poor Colin… he just isn’t getting his limelight anymore.  That’s okay – a bunch of other NFL players, college players and high school players have all taken up his banner and are disrespecting our nation, its anthem and our flag by kneeling “in protest” during the playing of our National Anthem pregame. Some of the coaches are reacting by benching those players. Anyone not actively speaking out against these “protesters” is, by default, supporting them.

But let’s take a minute to look at exactly what it is they are protesting: an oppressive America while police brutality against blacks is “wide spread, condoned and accepted.”

As a police officer myself with over 35 years of experience, I can tell you that not only is such behavior not condoned or accepted today, it never has been during my career. There may have been problems in the 1960s and prior, or maybe into the 1970s, but I’ve been wearing a military / law enforcement uniform since 1982 and I’ve NEVER seen racism accepted or condoned. I’ve seen soldiers and police officers both severely disciplined for racist statements. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at some statistics.

African Americans make up approximately 12% of the nation’s population. That recognized there are a disproportionate percentage serving in various judicially related positions. African Americans make up 15% of the federal appellate judges, 13% of state and local judges and 14% of American police officers. You’d think that those simple statistics are enough to demonstrate that the legal system in general is not bias against African Americans, but if your goal is specifically to demonstrate that law enforcement does or doesn’t exercise unnecessary force against that community, then the statistics relating to that. In a recent (may 2018) study it was revealed that people killed during encounters with police were 52% Caucasian, 26% African American, 17% Hispanic. Read those numbers again. That means Caucasian’s are twice as likely to be killed by police as are African Americans and THREE times more likely than Hispanics. I’m failing to see a bias toward African Americans? I’m failing to see numbers that indicate support for this so-called “oppression.”

So, with all that in mind, here’s the latest: NIKE has decided to pick Kaepernick as the face of its advertising campaign that focuses on self-sacrifice for your beliefs. It’s only been a day or two (as I type this) and there is already a huge backlash across social media; enough to get the attention of the MSM. There are a few things that someone at NIKE neglected to take into consideration when they chose Kaepernick to be the face of their campaign.

·        His “protest” wasn’t generally perceived as a sacrifice and his employment conditions likely didn’t change much as a result. “He hasn’t sacrificed a damn thing,” is the view of a great many people.

·         The military and law enforcement communities have (naturally) great crossover with the athletic community and while some might not be NIKE’s target demographic, a great many of them are.

·         By embracing Kaepernick’s position – which NIKE implies by hiring him – NIKE also embraces what is largely perceived as an anti-American position; not just an anti-police position. With their products already VERY publicly manufactured overseas in “sweat shops,” NIKE is now further distancing themselves from “the American way.”

The saddest part is – just two weeks ago I bought a brand new pair of NIKE running shoes. Now they’ve done this and, as I exercise all of my protected rights, I feel compelled to never buy another NIKE product. I will boycott NIKE and “protest with my wallet.”  I was never a football fan so boycotting the NFL was easy. I kind of liked NIKE’s products. Oh, well.  I’m sure they can live without my consumer dollars. I’m sure they can live without the consumer dollars from every soldier, police officer and deputy that decides to boycott them. I’m sure they can live without the consumer dollars from the families of all those people.

On the other hand… a corporation’s goal is to INCREASE profits every quarter; every year. Even if the military and law enforcement doesn’t make up NIKE’s target demographic, they will surely feel the profit loss in the backlash. It’s my sincere hope that whoever at NIKE is responsible for this decision to use Kaepernick as the face of their campaign loses his/her job. Next time pick someone who is actually a true national hero; who truly “sacrificed everything” (his LIFE) for his beliefs and in the service of his country; who turned his back on the NFL to pursue something greater: Pat Tillman.

I’ll close with this VERY public statement: The day Colin Kaepernick enlists in ANY branch of the United States military, completes basic training and whatever advanced school, I’ll apologize to him just as publicly as I’ve criticized him. Maybe if Kaepernick wants to make a difference in our nation he should step up and serve rather than trying to collect millions chasing a ball and balancing that against staying valid in the social media / news eye.

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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