This week’s Sport’s Illustrated cover is dedicated to the athletes sticking together in protest of the national anthem. It’s titled “Athletes Are Not Going to ‘Stick to Sports’ and That’s an Admirable American Thing,” and it illustrates professional sportsmen of the NFL and other sports alike in black and white, arms linked, with red, white and blue as their backdrop.
There’s just one problem: Colin Kaepernick—who notably took a knee last year to protest police brutality and the mistreatment of minorities, who put in time and sweat fighting not for a personal cause, but one affecting Black and brown folk across the nation—is not included.
Upon its reveal, the cover sparked heated conversation on social media. And, as others have noted, it almost seems like Kaepernick’s initial protest and those that followed have been appropriated as some sort of f***ed up marketing ploy.
We get it. 45’s comments regarding the NFL and the national anthem were dangerous and vexing. As previously noted, the president’s remarks about Kaepernick and others who’ve exercised their right to free speech derailed the protest and turned attention away from police violence.
The conversation is, indeed, an important one. But to omit Colin Kaepernick from the narrative is a bit of an oversight that probably should have been thought through a bit more.
Executive Editor Steve Cannella sat down for Sports Illustrated LIVE to address the cover, expressing an overall aim to capture the news of the weekend. “This was a weekend of division in many ways, but I think we thought the enduring message of what we saw especially on Sunday in the NFL was unity,” he said. “We’re not pretending everything is solved.”