Wednesday, 20 November, 2019


Kaepernick named victor of Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

Colin Kaepernick is honored by Sports Illustrated for his 'passionate defense of social justice.' Colin Kaepernick is honored by Sports Illustrated for his'passionate defense of social justice
Noah Ferguson | 01 December, 2017, 08:13

"For all those reasons - for his steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost - Colin Kaepernick is the recipient of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award".

The 30-year-old is the youngest victor.

Kaepernick began protesting the national anthem by first sitting, then kneeling during the song in the preseason of 2016. But the Ali Legacy Award does not honor perfection, and the criticisms of Kaepernick are misguided in one fundamental way: They make this story a referendum on Kaepernick.

Previous recipients of the award, which is given in association with the Ali family and which SI said honors "a figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world", include Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus and Magic Johnson.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in march and has remained jobless. Despite a rash of quarterback injuries, he remains unsigned.

While Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him off their rosters, the league has recently struck a deal with player representatives to provide approximately $90 million toward their community-oriented initiatives.

Lonnie Ali, Ali's wife of more than 30 years before the legendary boxer died in June 2016, played a role in deciding the victor.

Despite giving him the award, the article also acknowledged some of Kaepernick's flaws and missteps, such as wearing socks that depicted pigs in police hats, wearing a T-shirt with Fidel Castro's picture on it, and not voting in the 2016 election. "And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members".

"We expect reaction with everything we do", Cannella said. "That's just the modern political landscape we are in". Do I expect some to disagree with the decision? Kaepernick has donated almost $1 million to community organizations since his protest. "There's no denying he's been quiet, but we want this award to honor him because a lot of the noise has overshadowed his core message".

If the backlash is anything like the National Football League has faced, it will not be good for Sports Illustrated. The honor was not meant to become an annual award, but it has been each year since 2014, when Magic Johnson was honored.

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