UNITED STATES—I’m certain by this point, you all have heard the scandal if you want to call it that regarding NFL star and San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to participate in the country’s national anthem. This has caused plenty of conversation in America with celebrities, coaches, players, the media and even presidential candidate Donald Trump making his voice heard with the situation also.

The national anthem is something that has been taught for many of us at an early age and has become normalcy during professional sporting events. Kaepernick has made it clear he does not intend to participate in the anthem, which had many questioning why he choose to stay seated during the August 26 pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers.

During a post-game interview, Kaepernick stated, “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.”

The 49ers organization released the following statement in response to Kaepernick’s announcement, “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Some might be stunned with Kaepernick’s statement. I don’t believe many expected him to have such an articulate and strong opinion on why he has chosen NOT to participate in the national anthem. We live in a world where we just expect Americans to do what they are expected to do because it’s the right thing to do. However, we sometimes fail to acknowledge those who have religious beliefs or theoretical arguments as to WHY something should not be done.

I mean I recall when I was in kindergarten and I had a classmate who NEVER participated in the pledge of allegiance. It was against his religious belief and something that many of us as kids simply did not understand. Our argument was if we had to do it, why in the world did he not have to? I will make the argument that I do understand Kaepernick’s decision to refuse to participate; he has that right to do so, but I would make the point that doing so in such a public arena may not have been the best stance.

The backlash has become slightly extreme in my opinion with everyone chiming in on their thoughts. Some speaking a bit sooner than others and having to retract some statements as they did not have a clear understanding of precisely why COLIN chose to do what he did. However, as Americans we have to respect his decision rather we like it or not, but we shouldn’t be ready to throw the NFL player to the stake. I mean hearing BS about him losing his job over this ‘stunt’ as some people are calling it is just beyond baffling to me. Some have even resorted to burning jerseys from the player in revolt. A bit much if you ask me; it’s more people looking to gain a bit of notoriety in the world that we know as social media.

We all need to take a moment before we start throwing stones at someone for having their right to make a decision rather to participate or not to participate in something that is deemed so sacred to all Americans. What Kaepernick did may not be favorable for most people, he does indeed have that right to make that choice, rather we like it or not. It will be a statement for Kaepernick if he continues to sit-out for the entire NFL season, which means the level of commitment won’t be wavered.