As some local athletes follow the lead of Colin Kaepernick, it's time to stop talking and start acting

It’s an issue that’s been ongoing for some time now, since August.

But it’s an issue that isn’t right, or wrong, and now it’s an issue that’s hitting closer to home. Earlier in the week, an entire boys soccer team in Rochester took a knee during the pre-game national anthem. The move joins others around the country in a protest started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he wouldn’t stand “to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Not surprisingly, the conversation took off and it’s been constant since. Athletes and politics rarely mix, mostly because most sports fans are at games to escape the rhetoric. On the other hand, pro athletes are in a unique position of having plenty of eyes on them, so Kaepernick was wise to use his platform for an issue close to his heart.

But as this issue continues to move along, have you noticed that it isn’t about Kaepernick’s initial intent anymore? People have pointed out that he at least got the conversation started about racial inequality and while that may be true, what’s really the topic today? Most of the conversation is about how he could have or should have done it differently.

In other words, it’s become all about the protester, not what’s being protested.

And as this trickles down to high school athletes, it’s a shame because the legitimate issue of inequality is taking a back seat to what’s becoming a trend. It’s a “cool” thing to take a knee because a pro athlete did it.

This is why it comes back to Kaepernick and the manner in which he initially protested. His heart was in the right place in wanting to point out a problem. And there’s no question, race relations in this country are a problem and should never be brushed aside.

But here’s the problem with problems: People LOVE to complain about them. Talk, talk, talk. Anybody can complain.

That’s why it was nice to see Kaepernick move beyond his initial knee and back it up with action. It takes a real leader to get up and do something about a problem, and his donation to communities in need is real action.

Most of us don’t have $1 million to donate, but we do have the ability to follow Kaepernick’s lead and take action.

Coach a youth team. Lead a Cub Scout pack. Volunteer at nature centers. Play ball with your kid and his or her friends. Mentor kids at the library. Turn off your TV and find ways to get young minds and bodies active and show them how much life there is to live.

Keeping kids out of trouble is one big step toward improving relations across the board, no matter what your occupation, gender or race.

The point is: Let’s get up and do something about the issue instead of just talking about whether Colin Kaepernick is right or wrong. Or if the kids on local teams joining the protest are right or wrong.

We may not like seeing people on their knees, or sitting, during the anthem, but it’s a right we have as Americans. So make your statement, if you choose to do so, but don’t let it end there. Take the spotlight off of yourself and get busy making a difference in your world.

Talk is cheap and if we can show that action is the real road to progress, we may all be thanking Kaepernick instead of criticizing him.

Bob Chavez is the Daily Messenger’s sports editor. Contact me at rchavez@messengerpostmedia.com or follow me at @MPN_bchavez