Imagine two of the major American values collide: freedom of speech versus patriotism. Football icon Colin Kaepernick got a firsthand experience of this clash. In 2016, a simple gesture turned him into the most polarizing athlete of our times. When the crowd stood up for “The star-spangled Banner” before an NFL football game, he instead took a knee. It was the kickoff for a serious political crisis in the US. And it started a movement that made Colin Kaepernick world famous.
“The Price of Protest“ features companions like Kaepernick’s college football coach Chris Ault, famous athletes like French soccer star Lilian Thuram, and well-versed experts like German football commentator Patrick Esume. The documentary travels to the place where Kaepernick grew up, it explores the views of fans as well as political journalists and sports reporters. It tells the story of the scandal that made Kaepernick the most hated and most worshipped athlete in the world, but it also tells the life story of the quarterback.
Colin Kaepernick grew up as an adopted child in a white family. At an early age he had to learn what it meant to be a black person in a white world. He had a huge dream from his childhood on and that dream became true: As a quarterback in the world’s biggest sports league, he led his team to the Super Bowl. Colin Kaepernick seemed to be a man with a bright future. He was one of the most famous athletes in the United States. But instead of enjoying the fame, Colin Kaepernick decided to make use of his popularity. There was something wrong in his country and Kaepernick was no longer able to ignore it. Again and again, there had been cases of unarmed black men who had been shot by the police. Kaepernick wanted to stand up against this injustice – and did so by not standing up during the National Anthem, which is traditionally played before sports events in the United States. When instead he chose to take a knee before the game, the country was in shock. To some Colin Kaepernick was a hero – to others a traitor. Many people followed his lead, by taking a knee but also by protesting in the streets. #TakeAKnee became a movement – and with that, an issue of political topicality. President Trump demanded to get that “son of a bitch” who “disrespects our flag” “fired”. And indeed – in the new season of 2017 Kaepernick was unable to get a new contract. He lost his job as quarterback. Why was that? Was it too much of an economic risk to sign the polarizing player? It seems, Colin Kaepernick at a very young age had sacrificed his career. But he gained something greater. Taking a knee against social injustice will go down in history.