What we have here, from the perspective of a communications professional, is a new narrative.  Actually, depending on how you look at things (and how long you’ve been looking at them) it is an old narrative with a new set of voices.  And, like any narrative there is an opposing narrative.

What Colin Kaepernick started isn’t really new.  It resembles what Tommie Smith and John Carlos pulled off in 1968 got them kicked out out of the Olympics and what Muhammad Ali did in protest of the Vietnam war, which also got him kicked out of his sport (at least temporarily).  The point, for me, isn’t who was right and who was wrong but, instead, what have we learned from this?  You have to know that if you go first, you are going to get kicked out.  That, at least for the time being, is the way our system works.  So, hopefully, we’ve learned, or are at least reminded, of that.

Now, there’s an interesting turn of events.  A friend asked me if the “unity” narrative on the part of the league, its owners and most of its players seemed authentic.  My answer was, I don’t know about authenticity but it is definitely a strategy.  It may be a short-lives strategy because you have to know that as much as mega-sports unify us and as diverse as the NFL is, there are different politics.  In other words, love the idea that sports create a level playing field and that watching sports is something everyone can enjoy regardless of race, socioeconomic class, gender, etc. BUT can they remain unified in their intents?  We’ll see.

In the meantime, what I believe our President has done is create a common enemy (and he’s it from the perspective of football).  That brand of unity has stood the test of time.  Perhaps the greater narrative in play is the right of leagues, owners and employee-players to utilize the first amendment.

Of course there are arguments to the contrary, the most compelling being that these sorts of protest are out of place, in poor taste and anti-American.  This isn’t new either, especially in the sports arena.  Since this is essentially a business blog, I’m avoiding the politics or stating a point-of-view on the underlying issues.  That said, I will be paying careful attention to the communications strategies on both sides.