Confronting the myth of a ‘post-racial utopia’ in pro sports

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued to protest racial inequality and police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem Thursday. He was joined by teammate Eric Reid in taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner before their game in San Diego. In Oakland, Seattle Seahawk Jeremy Lane sat down during the anthem as well. These NFL athletes are not the first to protest the state of race relations in America. But they’re being called unpatriotic by critics – in a world where competition and patriotism are inextricably linked. Why do professional sports and patriotism go hand in hand? Can athletes criticize the state of their country without losing support in the arena? And what does the reaction to Kaepernick’s protest among players say about race-relations within the NFL, where nearly 69 percent of players identify as black?