How to Make Sure You Don't Raise Another Colin Kaepernick

You don’t have to be a football fan to know that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem.

If you are a fan, there’s a good chance that you are passing your love of the game on to your children. For almost two decades we were a football family as our boys played their way up from community junior leagues into high school football. My husband used that common ground to pour many of his core beliefs about the characteristics of a good man into them.

There’s so much more to supporting your boys who are playing the game than teaching them to win. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying winning isn’t the end goal. I’m saying that there are strength of character-building opportunities right along with the needed strength of physical endurance-building that make the game worth the risk of injury.

Herein lies the rub with Kaepernick. He is a good example for your children to learn a very important life lesson—or two.

There’s a lot of talk about respect, and lack of respect for the national anthem, and rightly so. What Kaepernick did was disrespectful.

As parents, there are three vital elements we need to instill in our children — and sports can be a good avenue to do just that.

Next page: It all starts with respect.

1. Respect

There are those among us who deserve to be honored and shown our respect. For example, in our house we routinely served our daddy first. The children knew it was a simple way to say “thank you” for working three jobs (as a local police officer) to feed and take care of us. It was our show of respect for his sacrifice.

2. Gratitude

Gratitude and respect are conjoined twins. You really can’t have one without the other. Kaepernick showed an immense lack of gratitude for the opportunity he was given to play football and become a very rich man doing so. In part, the reason he has drawn so much backlash is not because of the stand he took, but because of the way he did it. His lack of gratitude for those who sacrificed everything in order for him to be where he is (clearly, not oppressed) completely nullified the point he wanted to make using his platform.

1. Work Ethic

Go above and beyond. My husband used to ask our boys to run an extra lap at each practice—above and beyond what the coach would require. I would often wait in the car to pick them up, watching them run that last lap while the others cooled off with water. I didn’t understand it at the time–and didn’t like it. Now, as grown men, they are thankful that they know they can push past what they believe are their own barriers. That lesson has served them well. Had Colin Kaepernick learned that simple lesson he might have looked past the easy slogans and taken the extra lap by digging into the real issues creating the “oppression.”

The lesson parents can learn from Colin Kaepernick is that we want our children to understand that they can make a point or they can make a difference. Kaepernick made a point— one that made no difference because he lacked these three basic qualities.