Athletes: National anthem is about respect, not race

Wasn’t it wonderful to watch another Summer Olympic Games? It is so amazing to see the talent so many young people have and the spirit of the Olympics.

The Olympic creed is: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

It is also amazing to see people show pride for their country and their fellow man. Wasn’t it refreshing to watch pole-vaulter Sam Kendricks actually stop an attempt because he heard the national anthem playing in the stadium?

Then I was also extremely impressed by the fastest man on earth, Jamaican Usain Bolt, who was being interviewed by Brazilian TV when he heard the U.S. national anthem begin playing. He stopped the interview to show respect for the anthem. He seems like such a classy man and made a classy decision in a split second — showing respect for another nation’s anthem.

Then we go to a preseason football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem. Unbelievable. His excuse is even worse; he says he can’t support a country that oppresses black men.

This column is not about race. Actually, the national anthem should not be about race, religion, sexual orientation or anything except showing respect for the United States of America. So many people have died for the freedoms we have.

Yes, I’ll have to admit the freedom of speech gives Mr. Kaepernick the freedom to not respect our great nation.

I love the freedoms we have. One of my favorite Johnny Cash quotes goes something like this: “I love the freedoms we got in this country. I appreciate your freedom to burn your flag if you want to, but I really appreciate my right to bear arms so I can shoot you if you try to burn mine.”

So many people in this country have not learned to respect anything, so how can we expect them to learn to respect what should be a no-brainer situation? I would hope that if this column gets to any of the linemen for the 49ers, they would realize poor Mr. Kaepernick needs some common sense knocked into him. You owe it to him to help him.

One time while I was coaching we had a quarterback who constantly held the football when he was to throw a pass. There is only so much time that a line can hold its block. Trouble is, he always wanted to blame the line. “They can’t block anything.”

To show him the difference, I spoke to my right tackle. I told him, “Don’t block on the next pass play.” When the quarterback was hit within a second, I asked him if he recognized the difference in when a lineman really doesn’t block. It at least worked for that quarterback, so maybe you can help poor Colin in the same way.

I really think his lack of judgement and disrespect for the national anthem will only make the rest of America stronger. Americans disagree and argue about so many things, but for the most part, when it comes to showing respect to our flag and our nation, we unite.

Yes, he has a right to do what he did. But Mr. Kaepernick, the national anthem should not be about you. You owe your teammates, your fans and especially your nation respect at least.

Wayne Addison is chief probation officer for the Hancock County Probation Department. Send comments to