From the New York Times
Obama Says Colin Kaepernick Is ‘Exercising His Constitutional Right’By DANIEL VICTOR SEPT. 5, 2016President Obama said Monday that Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is “exercising his constitutional right” by refusing to stand during the national anthem, a decision that has created considerable controversy since he first took the action 10 days ago.While noting the meaning of the flag and the national anthem, the president said there was a long history of sports figures making political statements.“I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about,” President Obama said during a news conference in China. “And if nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.”
Speaking of sports stars being allowed to exercise their constitutional rights, here are a couple of other New York Times
articles, but these are from 16 years ago:
BASEBALL; Baseball Orders Tests for RockerBy JACK CURRYPublished: January 7, 2000Baseball has ordered John Rocker, the Atlanta Braves pitcher, to undergo psychological testing before deciding whether he will be disciplined for the disparaging remarks that he made about gays and minority-group members in a magazine article last month.
And from a few weeks later:
BASEBALL; Baseball Suspends Rocker Till May for CommentsBy MURRAY CHASSPublished: February 1, 2000Commissioner Bud Selig, saying John Rocker had dishonored Major League Baseball by disparaging many groups of society with his harsh comments in a magazine interview, suspended the Atlanta Braves’ No. 1 relief pitcher yesterday for 73 days, marking the first time a baseball player has been disciplined for speech. …Selig said that Rocker could not participate in spring training with the Braves, a 45-day period, and could not play during the first 28 days of the season. The commissioner also fined Rocker, a 25-year-old Georgian, $20,000 and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training. …”Major League Baseball takes seriously its role as an American institution and the important social responsibility that goes with it,” Selig said in a statement. ”We will not dodge our responsibility. Mr. Rocker should understand that his remarks offended practically every element of society and brought dishonor to himself, the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball.”Rocker, who initially gained notoriety by lashing out at Mets fans during the National League Championship Series last October, expanded his target group in a Sports Illustrated article in December. He disparaged an assortment of foreign people — ”I’m not a very big fan of foreigners,” he said, adding, ”How the hell did they get in this country?”– as well as gays and others.
In between, I had written in the National Post of Toronto
by Steve SailerNational Post1/10/00In the grand tradition of the Brezhnev regime, Major League Baseball is forcing Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker to undergo psychiatric testing for expressing dissident political and social opinions.Rocker is on the rack for the neo-Orwellian crime of hating New York. “It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.”Saturday Night Live’s Colin Quinn commented, “I hate Rocker, but I have to admit the guy has ridden the 7 train.”Of course, when the charge is “multicultural insensitivity,” the fact that one is telling the truth only worsens one’s guilt.No doubt, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of the thought police will be shocked, shocked, to learn from the shrinks that a young closer whose job is to intimidate batters by throwing 95 mph fastballs right under their chins is hot-headed and hostile.But the rest of us should be shocked by the chilling effect that “sensitivity” is having on free speech.
It doesn’t appear that in the current ten days of controversy over Kaepernick that anybody has previously brought up the Rocker analogy, even though they have obvious parallels beyond the obvious Who? Whom?
Update: As commenter Hepp suggests, in parallel to Obama defending Colin Kaepernick in China, here is Obama denouncing Donald Sterling
for what Sterling said in private
[Comment at Unz.com