Letter: Letter to the editor Joe Bradley


To the Editor:

The Friday Sept. 14 edition of The Tribune reported that Trinity Lutheran Athletic Director Andy Denny decided to not order Nike products because of, among other considerations, his opposition to the current Nike ad campaign.

The reporting would indicate his decision was made without input from parents or students. Crothersville Community Schools Athletic Director Greg Kilgore is reported to have made a similar decision but without explicit reference to the Nike ad.

It is unfortunate that athletic directors Denny and Kilgore missed a teachable moment to discuss Colin Kaepernick’s decision to “take a knee” during the National Anthem.

Students should question how these decisions were made, what weight was given to the facts and what other factors influenced the decision. Students could learn and practice informed decision making based on facts and thoughtful discussion.

The teachable moment could have discussed Kaepernick beliefs as reported in the New York Times on Sept 7 2017.

“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.”

He continued, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Students could look at his reasoning. Was he disrespecting the flag or the troops? Was he stating his belief that we are not living up to the values we espouse? Should we castigate him or acknowledge his actions?

It would have been instructive for the students to discuss how Kaepernick came to these opinions through his reading and class work.

It would have been informative to look closely at Colin Kaepernick’s philanthropy and his community volunteerism. In October 2016 he made a promise: “I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months.”

Kaepernick created KNOW YOUR RIGHTS CAMP, a free campaign for youth to raise awareness on self-empowerment.

Students could consider whether “taking a knee” is an isolated act or part of his larger commitment to bettering the lives of the oppressed.

Especially important would have been a discussion on the risks and rewards attendant to any controversial demonstration, such as he made on the field. If a student were to take a knee, what is the message being sent and what are the risks of being the messenger?

The Nike ad states “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

A standard the founding fathers applied as they risked everything to stand against King George’s oppression and wage a war for independence.

We call them Patriots. They believed in something larger than themselves. Students could discuss if Colin Kaepernick’s statements and actions align with the ad’s message.

In my opinion, the decision on whether or not to buy Nike products provided an opportunity to practice informed decision making. Having learned the skills the students could explore the gap between our espoused values and our actions and make informed decisions on the legitimacy of Kaepernick’s stance.

Our democracy depends on that kind of thinking.

Joe Bradley, Brownstown

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