9/16 Colin Kaepernick And The Beginning Of A Massive Social Justice Movement in Sports w/ Dave Zirin

September 16, 2021

Emma hosts Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation, to discuss his recent book The Kaepernick Effect: Taking A Knee, Changing the World. Emma starts off by weighing in on former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s excoriating testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, where she specifically implicated the FBI and Congressionally established committees in enabling Larry Nassar’s vicious abuse of young women and girls on the Olympic team and at Michigan State University.

Then Emma and Dave dive into discussing Colin Kaepernick’s seismic effect on social justice demonstrations, a ripple effect from kneeling on the sideline during the national anthem at NFL games all the way to the massive protest movements last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin. Dave sets the scene by prefacing how Kaepernick came about the act of kneeling, by interfacing with NFL player and veteran Nate Boyer on how to convey the solemnity of the occasion while respectfully dissenting, and how that didn’t matter to the people hell bent on vilifying him no matter the context. They then dive into the real juxtaposition of Kaepernick’s taking a knee in the name of racial justice in America, contrasted with Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on the neck of George Floyd, and how that symbolism really animated the demonstrations of last summer in Dave’s experience. Dave then tackles the civic religion of football and team sports, and how those connections, in the place of other public squares and communal connections, partially due to the atomization of labor, leave sports teams and stadiums as some of the last vestiges of the public square for many communities. Dave specifically notes this in the context of the NFL, especially in terms of the Super Bowl, one of the last events, he believes, that represents any sort of monoculture in the United States in the present day, despite maybe presidential elections. Emma and Dave then unpack some of the demonstrations, from the professional, college, and high school level, that emerged from Kaepernick kneeling, the repercussions it had for the demonstrators, the coaches, and the schools, and what impact he believed that extension of the protests had, both positive and negative. They close out the conversation by discussing some of the watered down efforts the NFL and other leagues have taken to address “inequality” and how those have essentially supplanted supporting legitimate forms of protest, all at the expense of front-liners like Kaepernick, safety Eric Reid, and wide receiver Kenny Stills, who to this day are still unemployed by an NFL team as a result of their sacrifice to the cause, while also outlining the progress that players have made by speaking the only language owners understand: that the NFL is a labor force they need to pacify to some extent, because if they don’t the money can run out. This, as Dave ends on, really only lays bare the fallacy of attempting to divorce politics from sports: with these types of labor and social dynamics at play, it simply isn’t possible.

In the second half, Emma is joined by Matt and Brandon, and they dive into Joe Biden completely forgetting the Australian Prime Minister’s name (it’s Scott Morrison, not the “fella from down under”) Grant Stinchfield losing his shit on NewsMax when a veteran guest dares to critique Trump, the Daily Wire bros dishing their takes on how Barack Obama ruined rock n’ roll music (???), a blast from the past news report the Daily Show dug up about some Michiganders’ opposition to a seatbelt ordinance in 1984, and Dave Rubin trying his best to flaunt his comedic chops by pretending to be downing shots of tequila “off-air” to assuage his misery that Larry Elder lost the recall. Plus, your calls and IM’s!

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