The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

Dave Zirin. New Press, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62097-675-3
Zirin (Jim Brown), sports editor at The Nation, delivers an enthralling look at the impact of peaceful protest by sports figures at the high school, college, and professional levels. Despite almost leading his team to a Super Bowl title, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 decision to protest the police shootings of unarmed Black men by taking a knee before football games while the national anthem was played rendered him a pariah in the NFL and left him unemployed. It also, Zirin notes, laid the groundwork for a reckoning within the sport. With deeply moving firsthand accounts from players of all ages from across the country, Zirin underscores how Kaepernick’s ostracism has paralleled the treatment of others who have followed his lead, such as one Ohio high schooler who kneeled in protest against white teammates using the N-word and received death threats in response. At the collegiate level, Black players have risked athletic scholarships to speak out against racism, and yet, Zirin writes, “because so many economic levers get pulled only if the athletes play, their power... is overwhelming.” In pointing this out, he brings into focus the colossal influence athletes actually have in upending a historically oppressive institution. The result offers rousing evidence of the life-changing effects spurred by individual action. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/17/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-62097-686-9
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