CRAWFORD | Three good notes: Kaep's stance, bowl speculation and a farewell
Eric Crawford talks about Kaepernick's stance on the national anthem, a possible Louisville bowl matchup with Texas and says goodbye to a colleague.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I guess there’s just no escaping real life in 2016 America. You can’t even watch a meaningless exhibition football game without having it hit you in the face. We might as well deal with it up front.
Three good notes for Tuesday, August 29:
1). KAEP’S STANCE. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick still holds center stage of the NFL news cycle for his refusal to stand during the national anthem before a game last weekend. The fallout on social media has been fierce. But when isn’t it? We’ve lost the ability to react reasonably to anything, but this will be one attempt.
I have several problems with what Kaepernick did. First, it doesn’t shed much light on the issues he wants to discuss -- or at least, what I understand those issues to be, given his vague description of them. I haven’t heard many talk shows or pundits talking about poverty in America or police relations with people of color. I have heard lots of debate over Kaepernick, and what people think of someone disrespecting the national anthem. In the end, Kaepernick’s stance has drawn more attention to himself than to the issues he wants to discuss.
Second, if you’re going to sit out the anthem, I think you’d better be ready to answer what, specifically, America has done to foster inequality, injustice or unequal opportunity. I don’t disagree that it’s out there. I just don’t know what Kaepernick is proposing that the government or this society should do. Take a look at the life story of our president sometime. Or our attorney general. America, for all its faults, created a society that fostered these leaders, or at the very least afforded them the educational opportunities to overcome obstacles they faced.
Which leads me to a general problem in the usual discussions of these issues Kaepernick brings up. The problem of inner-city violence or lack of opportunity or, to use Kaepernick’s word, oppression, largely is related to our failure as a society to adequately educate large numbers of children over a long period of time. We’re reaping the whirlwind for that. But we rarely talk about it. We talk about policing or the justice system. They’re only the endgame. The root goes further back, and until it is discussed, things will not change.
As for the anthem and standing, I’d like to think that no matter what you disagree with here, in the end, we are all Americans and we at least can agree on our respect for the ideals of this nation. Perhaps Kaepernick would’ve been well served to meet with the group of Syrian refugees who just arrived in this country a few days ago. There now have been 10,000 come here. They aren’t coming because this is the Land of Oppression. People all over the world aren’t trying to get here -- by any means they can use -- because the nation lacks opportunity.
Every fall, all over the world, in nations in every corner of the globe, signs are posted notifying people of a lottery. The prize? A chance to earn a visa to the United States, and to become Americans. Want to hear what this chance means? Listen to this episode of This American Life. That doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. But if you wait till a country is perfect to profess respect and allegiance to it, you’re going to wait forever.
It’s a free country, of course. As much as I respect the flag or the anthem or any symbol like that, I respect the right of an American to speak about his or her political beliefs. I don't like or agree with what Kaepernick did. But there’s too much trashing of people going on. You can disagree with someone’s actions or with their political beliefs without disparaging them as a person. At least, you used to be able to. I don’t agree with Kaepernick’s blanket and public rejection of this nation. I believe this nation, its government, and its people, are trying. Sometimes, in fact, those efforts have done more harm than good. But Kaepernick has every right to make his point in whatever way he chooses.
I also disagree, strongly, with those who would liken Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali or to Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Those athletes, who themselves had experienced discrimination, made iconic and lasting statements, and kept making them. It should be noted, Smith and Carlos stood for the anthem. Their aim wasn’t to disrespect their country, but to improve it. People were outraged at their bowed heads and raised fists. But they acknowledged the flag and the anthem.
The saddest part of all this is that even 48 years after that protest of inequality, it's still a part of life. But often we're too busy shouting at each other to examine what has worked, and what has not worked, in our efforts to address it.
Sometimes, you have to inflame people to make a point, yes. But if you’re going to inflame people, you’d better be ready to make a forceful point, or at least add perspective to the conversation. Kaepernick wasn’t.
2). INTERESTING LOUISVILLE BOWL PROJECTION. Get your bug spray ready, fans, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy raised an interesting bowl scenario for the University of Louisville football team. He has the Cardinals facing former coach Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.
Given how expectations have run wild for the Cardinals in recent weeks, at least among the fanbase, that destination might not thrill fans. But it was a good bowl trip several years ago, and would mean no lack of storylines.
3). A FAREWELL. Roy Walter, a longtime sports copy editor for The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, passed away after a battle with cancer earlier this week at the age of 66. In my 12 years at the newspaper, not many Wednesdays passed without a phone call from Roy, asking if I had any items for the year-round College Basketball Notebook.
Of the journalists this city has lost while the business contracts, perhaps the most missed and least-recognized, at least by the public, are the copy editors who combed through the newspaper time and again before it ever hit the streets. They made writing better, questioned points and sharpened weak construction. I don’t think I wrote many pieces for the newspaper that the copy desk couldn’t come up with five questions to ask me about it before turning it loose.
In Walter’s obituary, Dave Roos, one of his copy desk colleagues, said, “As one of the last of a now vanished breed of sports copy editors, he could turn haphazard writing into lucid prose, doing so with a quiet humility that was a leavening force in the madcap milieu of deadline pressure.”
Today, there’s very little of that, anywhere.
Roy was a graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan and we talked often about his Panthers, and about the University of Louisville. I’d see him at church occasionally after his retirement, or at the Northeast YMCA.
In 1994, Roy suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm, and usually that means lights out. He had the good fortune to have a gifted emergency room staff at Suburban Hospital, and Dr. William DeVries (of artificial heart fame), and he bought a couple more decades.
He made the most of them, and he’ll be missed.
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