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Colin Kaepernick's Lasting Impact On Protests And Activism In Sports

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Athletes Take a Knee.jpg
Damitry Pukalik
Wikimedia Commons
The protest started by Colin Kaepernick spread to other sports. Here soccer players from FC Krasnodar and Chelsea F.C. kneel in solidarity with the anti-racism movement during a match on October 28, 2020.

In a 2016 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback protested during the national anthem for the first time.

The athlete-turned-activist's decision prompted athletes around the country — and the world — to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Author Dave Zirin believes Kaepernick's "great gift" to the current political period is that "he offered up a language and a method of protest that others could replicate."

The impact reached much further than just the pros. Just days after Kaepernick's decision, high schooler Rodney Axson Jr. opted to kneel during his football game in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.

"For him, when he saw Colin Kaepernick take a knee," says Zirin, "it immediately clicked with him that this was something he could do to show people he was upset."

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