If you are a sports fan I’m sure you’ve already heard all the hubbub about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the National Anthem last Friday night in a preseason game with the Packers. Apparently, this is all about the United States’ treatment of racial minorities.
He told NFL media after the game, “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.”
I have strong opinions on this. Very strong. Remember, my son is a combat medic and will serve a tour in Jordan in January fighting for freedom so that Kaepernick can say stuff like this. Most importantly, I respect what our fourth President, James Madison, said when he penned the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Isn’t that cool. Our founding fathers understood there would be Kaepernicks in the world and made sure we supported them.
This week’s leadership article really isn’t about Colin Kaepernick’s or my wife’s favorite team—the 49ers. (She was in San Francisco during the glory years with Joe Montana.)
This week’s article is about the fact that true leaders understand that the world doesn’t care what they think about on political issues!
I loved Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the character Jeff Spicoli played by Sean Penn. Granted he is a great actor, and I don’t care what his net worth is; who he is voting for or his political persuasion. In fact, my second favorite thing about Sean is his ex-wife Robin Wright. I loved her in Forest Gump and Message in a Bottle. Guess what? I don’t care about her political views either.
Another political activist actor that comes to mind? Angelina Jolie. The two things I like most about Angelina are her husband and her dad. What I like has nothing to do with her, her movies or her political thoughts. In my deepest thoughts, I want to ask her husband, Brad Pitt, what it was like to be married to Jennifer Aniston. But I better stop right here!
Her father, John Voight, has about a million great movies. However, I don’t care about his views, either, when it comes to politics, religion, or where I should live or work.
Back to Kaepernick and any athlete, movie star or anyone that thinks it is important they make a statement.
I am your fan for one reason—for what you contribute to your profession. (Okay, except for the Angelina thing with Brad.) If I were a 49ers fan I would care about one thing—if you are a good quarterback. Unfortunately, it is obvious that you are more focused on making a statement than completing a 4th down and 5 pass.
I hope those of us who are leaders or potential leaders understand that our opinion and our political views are important to a very select group of people. Our employees don’t care. They care if we are good bosses.
Most don’t envy us. Maybe they don’t even like who we are. But, they want to make sure we are leading our companies so they have a good job in the future.
You got to love America. The land of opportunity. The land of the First Amendment. The land of brilliant people and leaders who wrote our Constitution and the Amendments to ensure freedom of speech. Now, go out and focus on become the starting quarterback again.