San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become the hottest talking point in sports by refusing to stand for the national anthem before games.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally spoke out Wednesday about Kaepernick's decision, per Barry Wilner of the Associated Press: "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing. I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. ... On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."
Goodell went on to say that NFL players have a huge platform to make their feelings and views known. Because of this, he said they must "choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great."
Kaepernick explained to NFL.com's Sam Wyche in August why he was declining to stand for the national anthem: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
There have been supporters and dissenters of his actions in the two weeks since Kaepernick was first photographed sitting on the bench during the anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
Kaepernick has taken steps to engage people in the military to discuss his position and get their thoughts on the matter. He met with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, who also went to training camp with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 as a long snapper, and they talked for 90 minutes.
After the meeting, Kaepernick changed his protest slightly by taking a knee as the anthem played, instead of remaining seated.
While in China for the Group of 20 summit on Monday, President Barack Obama was asked about Kaepernick's protest, per Kim Hjelmgaard of USA Today:
When it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us—that is a tough thing for them to get past. But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he’s generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.
Kaepernick also received support from United States women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe when she took a knee during the anthem Sunday prior to a Seattle Reign-Chicago Red Stars game in the National Women's Soccer League.
In addition to his efforts to bring awareness to injustices being done to people of color in this country, Kaepernick said on Instagram he will donate all of the proceeds he receives from the spike in his jersey sales to improving communities in need.