I grew up in the San Fernando Valley down in a little area of Southern California known as Los Angeles County.
I also attended the University of Nevada, Reno, for a year, which happens to be the alma mater of a certain California NFL team’s quarterback.
Basically, this all adds up to me being a huge fan of the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. I have his jersey and everything.
You may have heard of his latest moment in the spotlight after last week’s Twitter incident. After Kap tweeted about an intense “recovery-day” workout, an online troller took the opportunity to make fun of his accuracy issues.
“Ab workout won’t help find open receiver #study,” @battman_returns said.
Kap responded with three insulting tweets, each more degrading than the last. The last one was, “You got 8 followers bruh your own family don’t even want to know what you doin! Get better at life!”
It’s not surprising to see this kind of retaliation from a pro athlete. What surprises me is how OK everyone seems with it. In fact, many of Kap’s fans have tweeted about the incident in his support saying different variations of “Don’t start a fight if you can’t finish it.”
So, as one of Kap’s biggest fans, why am I so disappointed in this situation?
Because I believe athletes should be held to a higher standard. Not just because they’re public figures or because they represent a team like the 49ers, but because I believe athletes who have been part of a sport long enough should have built as much character as they did muscle.
Sports, especially team sports, are known to encourage strength, perseverance, teamwork and discipline. If you’ve ever watched Friday Night Lights, you know Eric Taylor was a great coach not just because of his win/loss record or methods on the field, but because he made it his job to mentor the boys on his team and make sure they became men of character – through football. Anytime any of his boys got too cocky, he’d knock them down a peg to teach them humility.
Kaepernick didn’t necessarily do anything wrong by defending himself, but there is definitely a much classier way he could have done it. Or he could have just not taken the bait and continued to work on his game.
His future stats could have done a better job of defending his skills than those tweets did.
And yes, I know that it’s low on the totem pole of athlete scandals – he didn’t have an affair, assault anyone or get into dogfighting – but it’s my firm belief that it’s the little things that define a person’s integrity. And if you don’t do the little things right, you won’t do the big things right either.
So instead of praising his quick wit, I’m going to encourage Kap and athletes like him to “get better” at the little things. They make a difference.