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The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

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Riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how "taking a knee" triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By "taking a knee," Kaeper Riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how "taking a knee" triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By "taking a knee," Kaepernick bravely joined a long tradition of American athletes making powerful political statements. This time, however, Kaepernick's simple act spread like wildfire throughout American society, becoming the preeminent symbol of resistance to America's persistent racial inequality. Critically acclaimed sports journalist and author of A People's History of Sports in the United States, Dave Zirin chronicles "the Kaepernick effect" for the first time, through interviews with a broad cross-section of professional athletes across many different sports, college stars and high-powered athletic directors, and high school athletes and coaches. In each case, he uncovers the fascinating explanations and motivations behind a mass political movement in sports, through deeply personal and inspiring accounts of risk-taking, activism, and courage both on and off the field. A book about the politics of sport, and the impact of sports on politics, The Kaepernick Effect is for anyone seeking to understand an essential dimension of the new movement for racial justice in America.


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Riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how "taking a knee" triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By "taking a knee," Kaeper Riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how "taking a knee" triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By "taking a knee," Kaepernick bravely joined a long tradition of American athletes making powerful political statements. This time, however, Kaepernick's simple act spread like wildfire throughout American society, becoming the preeminent symbol of resistance to America's persistent racial inequality. Critically acclaimed sports journalist and author of A People's History of Sports in the United States, Dave Zirin chronicles "the Kaepernick effect" for the first time, through interviews with a broad cross-section of professional athletes across many different sports, college stars and high-powered athletic directors, and high school athletes and coaches. In each case, he uncovers the fascinating explanations and motivations behind a mass political movement in sports, through deeply personal and inspiring accounts of risk-taking, activism, and courage both on and off the field. A book about the politics of sport, and the impact of sports on politics, The Kaepernick Effect is for anyone seeking to understand an essential dimension of the new movement for racial justice in America.

30 review for The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’ve likely heard about former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeling rather than standing for the flag of a nation that disrespects many of its citizens, which ultimately resulted in him being dropped from the league despite immense talent on the field. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel was risky yet brave, applauded by some, criticized by others. This book delves into the far reaching impact of his actions, inspiring other athletes at the pro, collegiate, a Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’ve likely heard about former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, kneeling rather than standing for the flag of a nation that disrespects many of its citizens, which ultimately resulted in him being dropped from the league despite immense talent on the field. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel was risky yet brave, applauded by some, criticized by others. This book delves into the far reaching impact of his actions, inspiring other athletes at the pro, collegiate, and high school levels to do the same and take a stand, protesting against police brutality and the inequalities of our country. Several stories of those athletes are shared here. “The athletes who kept the struggle alive at the professional level from 2016 to 2020 accomplished an incredibly important task. They did not let Kaepernick become the ghost story. Because they did so, an entire generation of young athletes have come of age in the past five years who see Kaepernick as someone to emulate, not someone whose story provokes fear.” While this is by No means similar to the tragedy of Parkland High School in 2018, I couldn’t help but be reminded of those students in reading the stories shared here in The Kaepernick Effect — Their commitment to do what’s right despite facing backlash from adults and other students, their refusal to stay silent, their willingness to be criticized and continue protesting to demand justice and accountability. I’m proud of my own Millennial generation for all we’ve endured and our general refusal to accept “the way it’s always been”, particularly in the sometimes antiquated work world, but Gen Z is even more committed to doing what’s right and we’re lucky to have this youthful energy, motivation, and voice demanding change. Thank you to NetGalley and The New Press for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World by Dave Zirin I think more people understand now what Kaepernick was taking a knee for after seeing George Floyd's murder. But at the time Kaepernick was kneeling, Kaepernick was an ousider but also an inspiration to many that had lived or living with the constant racist attacks and taunts. At the time too, there were plenty of minorities that were being killed in plain sight by cops and nothing was done about it. Justice was not in action i The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World by Dave Zirin I think more people understand now what Kaepernick was taking a knee for after seeing George Floyd's murder. But at the time Kaepernick was kneeling, Kaepernick was an ousider but also an inspiration to many that had lived or living with the constant racist attacks and taunts. At the time too, there were plenty of minorities that were being killed in plain sight by cops and nothing was done about it. Justice was not in action in America. The flag did not mean freedom and justice for all and Kaepernick was willing to give everything to bring attention to this fact. Kaepernick's bravery and commitment to bringing the injustice to light inspired many people in the sports field to also take a stand. Professional, semi-professionals, coaches, various team athletes, and cheerleaders all share stories. Even teachers. This book tells us about some of them and how they became involved. Many have some very horrific tales of racist attacks before they take a stand but they didn't let that stop them. The attacks became even worse after they took their stand. The Kaepernick effect on young people had them standing up to get the change started. They started with getting people to talk about racism, injustice, BLM, and police brutality. It spread like crazy with high school and colleges. This also tells of how people tried shutting them down. This is very informative and interesting. I enjoyed the stories of these brave kids. It was sickening to read all they went through in their day to day life just because they were of color! They should be very proud of themselves for their decisions to try to make a change in this messed up world! I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Traci Thomas

    This isn’t what I was expecting. Mostly interviews with folks who protested in their sports who were inspired by Kaepernick. It’s a little redundant. Some of stories are very powerful. Some are a little dull. Love Zirin’s constant reminder that sports are and have always been political.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    The Kaepernick Effect is essentially a collection of interviews with people across the nation who took the revolutionary step of choosing to take a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who did so to protest systemic oppression. THE LIMITATIONS: Don't come to this book looking for a deep, scholarly analysis of racism in America. It is a raw and organic account of racism from varying viewpoints. A conservative reading this will have many objections to the core claims made by the students and i The Kaepernick Effect is essentially a collection of interviews with people across the nation who took the revolutionary step of choosing to take a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who did so to protest systemic oppression. THE LIMITATIONS: Don't come to this book looking for a deep, scholarly analysis of racism in America. It is a raw and organic account of racism from varying viewpoints. A conservative reading this will have many objections to the core claims made by the students and individuals in this book. "But the cops didn't kill Sandra Bland! She [allegedly] committed suicide!" Things like that come to mind. There is much taken for granted in this piece. In addition to this, I think another reviewer noted that stories become redundant and often you feel like you're reading the same interview again. THE GOOD: But the redundancy, I think, is the point. Time and time again, we see communities that have all the superficial features of a post-racial society shockingly and strangely transformed into the Deep South of the 1960s. Teams are booed and disbanded, friendships ruined, individuals of color called n**** or monkey and told to go back to Africa. And that is the striking feature of each of this accounts: here in 2021 America, it happens OVER and OVER again. Not in isolated incidents but as a systemic and coordinated attack on individuals taking simple gesture: taking a knee. I thought to give this book three stars because, to be honest, yes the stories do get redundant and not everyone is giving a college thesis on systemic racism. They are speaking from their souls and those to blind to see it will likely mock such diatribes. But I am reminded of The Chicago Defender, a black newspaper that spoke out against lynching during the early 1900's. They were not always accurate, but they were on the right side of history and they were getting on the record the atrocities occurring in the first half of that century. What Dave Zirin has collected is an important piece of history for posterities sake. So that those in future generations can know that the vitriol was not imagined, they can know that pain was not an apparition, they can look in the eyes of the afflicted and chose a side.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    This might be Zirin's finest work to date. The purpose of the book is to illustrate the deep effect the Colin Kaepernick kneeling protest had on a wide spread array of young athletes and beyond. The book is divided into three sections: high school athletes, college athletes, and professional athletes (interestingly, the shortest section which speaks to how the book is really centered on young people.)  It reads very engagingly because Zirin lets the participants speak for themselves, and it takes This might be Zirin's finest work to date. The purpose of the book is to illustrate the deep effect the Colin Kaepernick kneeling protest had on a wide spread array of young athletes and beyond. The book is divided into three sections: high school athletes, college athletes, and professional athletes (interestingly, the shortest section which speaks to how the book is really centered on young people.)  It reads very engagingly because Zirin lets the participants speak for themselves, and it takes a chilling pattern: The mostly African-American (but not entirely) teenager or young adult athletes take a knee during the national anthem after being inspired by Kaepernick's show of solidarity with the rising Black Lives Matter movement. Then, the reaction begins in fury, with parents openly letting loose in racist tirades, teachers, coaches, and principles working to silence the athletes and sometimes outright running them off the team. Then, the continuing and vicious reaction tests the athletes resolve, and many of their allies and comrade crumble. One particularly disturbing part has a mostly black football team read the entire Star Spangled Banner, where in the seldomly sung third verse, the poem speaks of killing slaves who had fled to the British lines, written by the slave-owning Key. Zirin makes the book even stronger by revisiting all of many interviewees to ask them about the George Floyd murder and huge protests of 2020, and across the board, the speakers say that they are both saddened the struggle continues but proud they were on the right side of history.  Zirin says in the introduction that he originally started writing this book to give a voice to those lesser known anthem-kneelers because he was afraid the moment would be forgotten, but then the 2020 protests happened that began to shake up the old police-as-gods consensus. This book is quite timely, and due to recording the voices of this wave of kneelings, will age well. At the end of the book, the section on professionals contains the more well known names in Michael Bennent, Megan Rapinoe, Eric Reed, and more, but the real meat of the book shows how widespread in high schools and colleges across the United States this movement for racial justice by politically aware athletes had become and continues today. A must read. Note: Received a Review Copy to write this review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Zirin's book consists of inspiring and insightful interviews with a range of athletes (and one national anthem singer) from high school, college, professional, and Olympic teams. The focus of these interviews, as evidenced by the title of the book, is how Colin Kaepernick inspired them to kneel (or raise a fist) during the national anthem to express concerns about our country, specifically the treatment of black and brown individuals by the police. The lengthy interviews explain how the athlete Zirin's book consists of inspiring and insightful interviews with a range of athletes (and one national anthem singer) from high school, college, professional, and Olympic teams. The focus of these interviews, as evidenced by the title of the book, is how Colin Kaepernick inspired them to kneel (or raise a fist) during the national anthem to express concerns about our country, specifically the treatment of black and brown individuals by the police. The lengthy interviews explain how the athlete made the decision to make this statement, how their coaches, teammates, and community reacted, and the consequences of their actions. These consequences typically included threats on social media, being benched or kicked off the team (or out of the sport), being harassed at games, and on rare occasions being applauded and championed for their courage. The athletes he interviews express themselves clearly and compellingly, making powerful arguments for their decisions and actions and explaining how their personal histories or studies led them to take these steps. The largest concern with these interviews is they're often repetitive, with many athletes making similar points and only occasionally raising a unique argument or idea. The book misses being more persuasive and compelling because Zirin did no research, provides very little context for the stories, overlooks at least one enormous example (the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to play a playoff game out of protest), and doesn't explore the narrative or examples provided by his interview subjects. For example, I wanted to know what teammates and coaches thought about their actions and how they made their own decisions (Zirin rarely interviews coaches, and the few times he does it's those who were supportive); I wanted to know what happened at some of the games from an objective perspective (or at least one beyond the storyteller's); I wanted to hear from fans and get their opinions instead of reading this through the lens of the athlete; and often I wanted to know the stories behind the individuals who inspired these actions. Some are very well-known--George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown--while others are less familiar and are repeatedly referenced without explanation. Any of this could have been easily accomplished with a little research and time and would have provided far greater context for the book's argument,. Perhaps most surprisingly, Zirin doesn't even interview Colin Kaepernick. Given the thesis of his book, the lack of Kaepernick's perspective is a glaring omission that makes the reader wonder how much effort Zirin put into his research and interviews. Based on the final product, it looks like the answer is "not much." There's excellent and insightful information in this book, but it could have been much stronger and more persuasive with a little extra effort.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Pace

    I read this book because I was purely curious to see what kind of impact people all over the country who took a knee had and what kind of response they received. All of the stories are interesting (a little redundant) and I love that each person who kneeled got to explain their individual decision to kneel—some of which I never even considered— but I’d really like to see an updated version of this book down the line, when these people are older and have had the chance to make tangible long-term I read this book because I was purely curious to see what kind of impact people all over the country who took a knee had and what kind of response they received. All of the stories are interesting (a little redundant) and I love that each person who kneeled got to explain their individual decision to kneel—some of which I never even considered— but I’d really like to see an updated version of this book down the line, when these people are older and have had the chance to make tangible long-term changes for the better in their communities. It felt kind of incomplete. It’s nice to see that these stories have been documented though, and in detail so that they can hopefully be revisited in the future when those who knelt have more opportunity to make lasting differences.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I appreciated how this book looked at the area where spots and politics overlap, and how sports can be used to campaign for change. Given how massive sports are worldwide, it only makes sense that some people have chosen to use that spotlight, for better or worse, to highlight social ails. The best thing about this book though is that it shines a light on regular people, often teens and young adults, who also took a knee while not having the same safety net that Colin Kaepernick did. I firmly fe I appreciated how this book looked at the area where spots and politics overlap, and how sports can be used to campaign for change. Given how massive sports are worldwide, it only makes sense that some people have chosen to use that spotlight, for better or worse, to highlight social ails. The best thing about this book though is that it shines a light on regular people, often teens and young adults, who also took a knee while not having the same safety net that Colin Kaepernick did. I firmly feel that they’re on the right side of history and that the next generation is really going to be a force to be reckoned with.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ramiro Guerra

    As the title suggests, this book was about the influence Colin Kaepernick’s actions had on athletes of all ages throughout the country as they saw their communities react to his kneeling. As they followed in his footsteps via peaceful protest, many of these athletes had to confront similar backlash, but also found strength in community and support as they joined the fight for racial justice. Although it broke my heart to hear how much hate these athletes experienced, much of it happened when they As the title suggests, this book was about the influence Colin Kaepernick’s actions had on athletes of all ages throughout the country as they saw their communities react to his kneeling. As they followed in his footsteps via peaceful protest, many of these athletes had to confront similar backlash, but also found strength in community and support as they joined the fight for racial justice. Although it broke my heart to hear how much hate these athletes experienced, much of it happened when they were just kids, it also healed me to hear their resolve as they reflected back on their experiences. *the author interviewed a bunch of athletes around the time they started kneeling in 2016-2017 and then also followed up with some during and after summer of 2020 that saw some of the biggest uprisings this country has ever seen*. The future is bright, as the upcoming generation is the least tolerant of *INTOLERANCE*. The kids are alright.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Interesting and it has its moments, but it tends to be wearyingly monotonous. I'd call it a failure of organization on Zirin's part. He wants to profile athletes who came forward to take a knee after Kaepernick kicked off a movement in 2016. To this end, Zirin interviewed dozens who were inspired by Kaepernick, and profiles them all. It's a noble idea, but around the 30th story it all starts to sound like you've read it before. Maybe it would've been better to break it up by themes or something. Interesting and it has its moments, but it tends to be wearyingly monotonous. I'd call it a failure of organization on Zirin's part. He wants to profile athletes who came forward to take a knee after Kaepernick kicked off a movement in 2016. To this end, Zirin interviewed dozens who were inspired by Kaepernick, and profiles them all. It's a noble idea, but around the 30th story it all starts to sound like you've read it before. Maybe it would've been better to break it up by themes or something. As is, a litany of overlapping experiences starts to read like a 19th century county history, where you're geting simliar stories for 100 pages. The best part comes early, when Zirin interviews high school kids. These are the most inspirational, and often the most frustrating as these are 15-year-olds (or so) being treated like dirt for - GASP! - acting in accordance with their constitutional rights to protest on behalf of civil and human rights. Gee, the nerve of them. (Also, since the earlier stuff is the best, that also means the book becomes increasingly deflated as it goes along. By the time you get to the pros at the end, the book feels more rote because we've heard the stories before - both earlier in this book and in earlie interviews by these very pros. Interesting that not a single person regrets it. Even those who got shat on. Even the coaches who lost their jobs. No one regrets it. Good for them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    This book is one that should be shared with every human that reads & even those who don't. It's a must read. I'm in a biracial marriage and knowing the struggles we have from family, strangers hurts of course, but to read the sickening attacks that have happened in other's lives puts things into perspective. Kapernick started a movement that people still struggle to understand but until people read this book and even more stories of WHY he took that knee history will repeat as it has in the past This book is one that should be shared with every human that reads & even those who don't. It's a must read. I'm in a biracial marriage and knowing the struggles we have from family, strangers hurts of course, but to read the sickening attacks that have happened in other's lives puts things into perspective. Kapernick started a movement that people still struggle to understand but until people read this book and even more stories of WHY he took that knee history will repeat as it has in the past.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Taddeo

    I really loved reading this book. Teaching and coaching at a middle school during the Trump administration meant having a lot of hard conversations with kids about the state of race and class in America and I saw a lot of my students in these athlete anecdotes. I really loved that Zirin kept most of the stories in their own words and dedicated the majority of space in the book to the high school and college athletes. I think this book pairs nicely with Etan Thomas's We Matter and continues to il I really loved reading this book. Teaching and coaching at a middle school during the Trump administration meant having a lot of hard conversations with kids about the state of race and class in America and I saw a lot of my students in these athlete anecdotes. I really loved that Zirin kept most of the stories in their own words and dedicated the majority of space in the book to the high school and college athletes. I think this book pairs nicely with Etan Thomas's We Matter and continues to illustrate the effect that athletes can have in pushing these crucial conversations forward.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan Gorecki | wellreadmegs

    3.5 stars This is now the 2nd or 3rd book I've read written by Dave Zirin. His books perfectly cross the intersectionality of sports and politics. This book I feel like should have been called The Kaepernick Effect: stories from a movement. Unlike Zirin's books usually, this book was mostly just excerpts of different athletes across high school, college, and professional sports who took a knee & the impetus for doing so. Although interesting to hear the many stories, I found myself wanting more 3.5 stars This is now the 2nd or 3rd book I've read written by Dave Zirin. His books perfectly cross the intersectionality of sports and politics. This book I feel like should have been called The Kaepernick Effect: stories from a movement. Unlike Zirin's books usually, this book was mostly just excerpts of different athletes across high school, college, and professional sports who took a knee & the impetus for doing so. Although interesting to hear the many stories, I found myself wanting more of an analytical look into these movements besides first-person interviews and perspectives. Maybe we are not far enough removed yet from the timing of this book and current world events to truly take an analytical approach. Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    A look at how Kaepernick's national anthem protests against police brutality have reverberated across the sports world, from high school to college to pros. This does get repetitive after a while, as many of these stories are quite similar, but who can get tired of (mostly) young people having a moment of realization about racial injustice and deciding to take action? A look at how Kaepernick's national anthem protests against police brutality have reverberated across the sports world, from high school to college to pros. This does get repetitive after a while, as many of these stories are quite similar, but who can get tired of (mostly) young people having a moment of realization about racial injustice and deciding to take action?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Seigler

    When he took a knee in 2016, Colin Kaepernick was taking a stand against police brutality and for social justice. Full stop, end of discussion, don't even continue reading this review if you disagree, because you don't want to see it for what it was. Seriously, stop reading this review now if you have any issue with that first sentence. Okay, for the rest of the review: his principled stand cost him his career in the NFL, but it helped to ignite a movement by athletes of all stripes, across all When he took a knee in 2016, Colin Kaepernick was taking a stand against police brutality and for social justice. Full stop, end of discussion, don't even continue reading this review if you disagree, because you don't want to see it for what it was. Seriously, stop reading this review now if you have any issue with that first sentence. Okay, for the rest of the review: his principled stand cost him his career in the NFL, but it helped to ignite a movement by athletes of all stripes, across all ages, to kneel as he did, and face the sort of verbal abuse that he did as well. In the wake of George Floyd's murder in 2020 and the unrest that provoked, Kaepernick's example once again set the tone for how we responded as a nation to the collective injustice that says that one person's life is less valuable than another's simply on account of their skin color (or ethnicity, or gender identity, or sexual orientation, what have you). Dave Zirin has collected the stories of many of those athletes in this, "The Kaepernick Effect." It's less about Kaepernick himself than the athletes he inspired, but make no mistake: his kneeling during the National Anthem is the spark that lit up the movement that we still see today. Zirin presents a wide range of voices, most especially from young athletes who were in high school when the kneeling began and who saw the hostile reactions of many so-called "adults" (including the future president of the United States, a failed reality-TV star who used racial fears to fear-monger his way to the White House) and decided that the time had come for them to do their part. Many of the protesters are people of color, but some allies from the white community are heard from as well, including Megan Rapinoe (who faced a similar backlash as Kaepernick at the time but, because of our culture's lesser regard for women's sports, has continued to have a career, as well she should; Kaepernick was blackballed by the NFL, and some of the professional and college athletes who Zirin profiles also faced loss of employment or chances to advance to higher levels in their sport due to their activism). Zirin, a sportswriter who has never shied away from the realities of how sports reflect American politics (good but especially bad), pulls no punches in highlighting the strife that occurred to many of the people profiled here, but he also holds out hope through their words that change, as Sam Cooke once sang, though a long time coming, is going to occur. There are still people who conflate the protest of Kaepernick and others as somehow "anti-military" or "anti-American." These people need a serious refresher on what the Constitution says about freedom of speech, and what our actual history as a nation is with regards to our most marginalized populations. America has never been great, much less in need of being made "great again." Colin Kaepernick started a movement that helped push Black Lives Matter into the forefront of our national discussion, and while it may be convenient to suggest that the work is over, that the crisis is over, COVID-19 and the continued efforts of Republican lawmakers to disenfranchise Black and other minority voters highlight how far we still have to go. With the examples in this book, it behooves us all to take a stand (or take a knee) when we know what we're witnessing isn't right.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Colette

    I wish there were half stars because I'd rate this more as a 3.5 than just a 3. I liked this book and it did what the synopsis promised - providing the stories of those that had followed in Kaepernick's footsteps whether they be high school or college student athletes, pros, coaches or parents across a wide variety of sports throughout the US. The book became a little repetitive with the reasons and motivations behind these people deciding to take action, however I think that ends up highlighting I wish there were half stars because I'd rate this more as a 3.5 than just a 3. I liked this book and it did what the synopsis promised - providing the stories of those that had followed in Kaepernick's footsteps whether they be high school or college student athletes, pros, coaches or parents across a wide variety of sports throughout the US. The book became a little repetitive with the reasons and motivations behind these people deciding to take action, however I think that ends up highlighting why action needed to be taken, why Kaepernick took a knee in the first place, that these incidents of police brutality or murdering of black men and women, of the injustices in America were not a one off but baked into the system of the country, so whilst it did feel like you were reading the same thing over and over, these stories drove home the point that no matter where you were in America, this mattered. I think it was important to hear from the student athletes at both high school and college level, as well as their coaches. These were kids that endured so much for doing something peaceful and didn't hurt anyone, yet for some the consequences were great. I would have liked to have heard more from the professional side - from coaches and GMs and league directors, although I know it's very unlikely that they would have spoken on the record. It would have also been interesting to hear from political figures and sports reporters to hear what they thought of Kap's actions at the time and what they think now, if their views have changed. The person I really wanted to hear more about and from was Kaepernick. I know that it was meant to look at the effect his kneeling had on a nation-wide level, however I think it's also important to understand who he is, the impact this had on him and where he is now and how the league has changed but he's still not been allowed back in. I don't know if everyone that picks this up will necessarily have a full understanding of the before or the after of his kneeling, so it could have been useful to have a more rounded and complete view of the man that took a stand (knee) but then again, it's not supposed to be an autobiography of Kap. Overall, I did really like it and if anything it left me thinking that thought of 'The Kids Are Alright'. These kids are so engaged, they care about their communities and others and they believe that they should be heard and that we should all be equal. They are willing to sacrifice their own futures and safety to bring awareness to a very real issue, to demand change and accountability and to make people look inward. I'm glad that they are our future.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kitchen

    On August 26, 2016, prior to the San Francisco 49ers' exhibition football game against the Green Bay Packers, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was noticed for the first time by the media of his sitting during the national anthem. After a conversation with former San Diego Charger and Green Beret Nat Boyer, Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem on September 1, 2016 in San Diego. His message - "we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of peopl On August 26, 2016, prior to the San Francisco 49ers' exhibition football game against the Green Bay Packers, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was noticed for the first time by the media of his sitting during the national anthem. After a conversation with former San Diego Charger and Green Beret Nat Boyer, Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem on September 1, 2016 in San Diego. His message - "we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed. We have a lot of people that aren't treated equal, given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, to be brought to life, and we need to fix those." Though there were loud voices against Kaepernick, high school, college, and pro athletes held the same belief. His action inspired them to echo the message. In "The Kaepernick Effect," Dave Zirin brings to light the voices and actions of those athletes who protested police brutality and racism in the wake of Kaepernick's action. And while at the time many couldn't grasp the reason for the protest, it became much clearer with the murder of George Floyd during the COVID pandemic. This is an excellent read about the athletes, how and why they protested, and the results and consequences of their actions. An All Star team of heroes and leaders.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Victoria I

    "The Kaepernick Effect" did a great job of having a vast majority of different athletic voices from high school all the way to the pros. There was a large amount of stories from athletes who had varying levels of support and backlash in their choice to take a stand against police brutality. The stories these people shared were really inspiring. While the sections between each level of athletics were large, the subsections of each person felt appropriately lengthed and not too long or too short. "The Kaepernick Effect" did a great job of having a vast majority of different athletic voices from high school all the way to the pros. There was a large amount of stories from athletes who had varying levels of support and backlash in their choice to take a stand against police brutality. The stories these people shared were really inspiring. While the sections between each level of athletics were large, the subsections of each person felt appropriately lengthed and not too long or too short. A great touch the author added was going back to some sources and asking how the players who were shunned and got major backlash after taking a knee felt following the summer tragedies that led to national police brutality protests in 2020. Overall, the book was a great way to read the stories of various athletes who took a stand, why, and how they were received. After a while, the formula of this book did get a bit redundant. I could tell the same questions were used on most if not all of the people. There were less transitional context between each of the sources quotes which may have just been a personal pet peeve but could also have been supplemented with analysis. It just felt like a little something was missing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality, and follows the stories of other athletes inspired to do the same. Separated into sections for high school, college, and professional sports, those interviewed for the book discuss the motivation behind their decision to kneel and the resulting reactions they received in the aftermath. I have read a couple of Zirin's prior books, and looked forward to reading and having the opportunity to The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality, and follows the stories of other athletes inspired to do the same. Separated into sections for high school, college, and professional sports, those interviewed for the book discuss the motivation behind their decision to kneel and the resulting reactions they received in the aftermath. I have read a couple of Zirin's prior books, and looked forward to reading and having the opportunity to review The Kaepernick Effect. The purpose of the book is clear in the title and very straightforward throughout the book. I liked the layout of the book and the style of how it was written, with the author really taking a backseat and letting the athletes tell their stories. These are voices that may have otherwise been unheard or misconstrued based on the politicization of this issue, and all of them brought together makes this a powerful read. I would recommend The Kaepernick Effect to any reader with an interest in the topic. Thanks to Netgalley and The New Press for this ARC; this is my honest and voluntary review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality, and follows the stories of other athletes inspired to do the same. Separated into sections for high school, college, and professional sports, those interviewed for the book discuss the motivation behind their decision to kneel and the resulting reactions they received in the aftermath. I have read a couple of Zirin's prior books, and looked forward to reading and having the opportunity to The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality, and follows the stories of other athletes inspired to do the same. Separated into sections for high school, college, and professional sports, those interviewed for the book discuss the motivation behind their decision to kneel and the resulting reactions they received in the aftermath. I have read a couple of Zirin's prior books, and looked forward to reading and having the opportunity to review The Kaepernick Effect. The purpose of the book is clear in the title and very straightforward throughout the book. I liked the layout of the book and the style of how it was written, with the author really taking a backseat and letting the athletes tell their stories. These are voices that may have otherwise been unheard or misconstrued based on the politicization of this issue, and all of them brought together makes this a powerful read. I would recommend The Kaepernick Effect to any reader with an interest in the topic. Thanks to Netgalley and The New Press for this ARC; this is my honest and voluntary review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    PBinLostAngeles

    Promoting this under-achiever is pathetic! I'd remind people after the 49ers went 1-10 in his starts Kaepernick was relegated to the team's bench; shortly thereafter he then received permission from the 49ers to negotiate with other teams. BTW the kneeler was slated to earn $11.9 million in base salary from the 49ers in 2016. During one of those subsequent negotiations, the Broncos offered Kap a two year deal with $7 million in base salary + handsome incentives. At the time of their negotiations Promoting this under-achiever is pathetic! I'd remind people after the 49ers went 1-10 in his starts Kaepernick was relegated to the team's bench; shortly thereafter he then received permission from the 49ers to negotiate with other teams. BTW the kneeler was slated to earn $11.9 million in base salary from the 49ers in 2016. During one of those subsequent negotiations, the Broncos offered Kap a two year deal with $7 million in base salary + handsome incentives. At the time of their negotiations with Kaepernick, Broncos GM John Elway wanted the 49ers to make up that $4.9 million difference, but SF refused. In concert, Kaepernick refused to give that $4.9 million up. Talks between Kaepernick's people and the Broncos fell apart and that flash-in-the-pan has been out of football since, but let us not pout for Kap. Kaepernick now gets between $5 and $10 million dollars per year from Nike, as well as other endorsement contracts worth at least $2-$3 million dollars per year. When we consider getting the snot knocked out of ya by linebackers and linemen for the same or less money, by comparison, that's a day at the beach! Don't waste your money on this....

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Following Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during the 2016 NFL season, athletes in a variety of sports and levels followed his lead. Dave Zirin interviewed high school, college, and professional athletes about their decisions to take a knee, and the overall impact of their decisions. This collection of personal experiences gives readers an understanding of how different people viewed taking a knee and the impact it has had on the individuals, their communities, the sports world, and th Following Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during the 2016 NFL season, athletes in a variety of sports and levels followed his lead. Dave Zirin interviewed high school, college, and professional athletes about their decisions to take a knee, and the overall impact of their decisions. This collection of personal experiences gives readers an understanding of how different people viewed taking a knee and the impact it has had on the individuals, their communities, the sports world, and the nation. I read an ARC from NetGalley.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Reynolds

    I wish I could give this more than 3 stars. I found the stories interesting and learned quite a bit about his decision affected so many. I also found them a bit redundant and wished for more from other players and coaches and how ones actions affected them. Maybe from both sides. Or even include some fan perspectives. It felt more one sided. Kaepernick made waves with this…good and bad…but there isn’t as much directly from him. It’s a story I believe people should read but just know going in, it I wish I could give this more than 3 stars. I found the stories interesting and learned quite a bit about his decision affected so many. I also found them a bit redundant and wished for more from other players and coaches and how ones actions affected them. Maybe from both sides. Or even include some fan perspectives. It felt more one sided. Kaepernick made waves with this…good and bad…but there isn’t as much directly from him. It’s a story I believe people should read but just know going in, it may not be what you expect.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Reading this book, which amounts to a collection of interviews with athletes -- high school, college, and pro -- who took a knee and/or raised a fist during the National Anthem, following the lead of Colin Kaepernick, I was struck by the courage and commitment of their actions, often in the face of extraordinary backlash, be it verbal abuse, isolation, or financial repercussions. There is much to learn from listening to their stories and for all of us, especially white people like me, to process Reading this book, which amounts to a collection of interviews with athletes -- high school, college, and pro -- who took a knee and/or raised a fist during the National Anthem, following the lead of Colin Kaepernick, I was struck by the courage and commitment of their actions, often in the face of extraordinary backlash, be it verbal abuse, isolation, or financial repercussions. There is much to learn from listening to their stories and for all of us, especially white people like me, to process in terms of how to be a successful ally to those who are oppressed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert White

    I would like thank Publisher and Net for ARC copy, this was emotional read as a Black man I have experience social justice in my life, America is anything but beautiful. The Kaepernick was a awesome read Colin Kaepernick is a hero to bring awareness to Racial Injustice taking a knee losing Millions of Dollars that takes courage. This was a hard read but much needed. My heart goes out to everyone story and experience, I wish everyone would give this book a chance try understand what it's like liv I would like thank Publisher and Net for ARC copy, this was emotional read as a Black man I have experience social justice in my life, America is anything but beautiful. The Kaepernick was a awesome read Colin Kaepernick is a hero to bring awareness to Racial Injustice taking a knee losing Millions of Dollars that takes courage. This was a hard read but much needed. My heart goes out to everyone story and experience, I wish everyone would give this book a chance try understand what it's like living in this Country BLM.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I fail to grasp how a bunch of whiny, well-paid athletes can complain of their plight with a straight face, but I suppose complaining is clearly a first amendment right. I was relatively interested through most of the essays until someone uttered a phrase along the lines of "... leaving religion behind..." indicating to me that this was totally political and contained almost no spiritual component. Sorry, no sale. I fail to grasp how a bunch of whiny, well-paid athletes can complain of their plight with a straight face, but I suppose complaining is clearly a first amendment right. I was relatively interested through most of the essays until someone uttered a phrase along the lines of "... leaving religion behind..." indicating to me that this was totally political and contained almost no spiritual component. Sorry, no sale.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Caroline 'reading with Buddy'

    Well I didn't know what to expect from this book. I found it very interesting and I learnt a lot. I didn't realise a lot of what was contained in the book. I especially found it interesting the section on cheerleaders and the chapters on baseball etc. I was given an advance copy by netgalley and the publishers but the review is entirely my own. Well I didn't know what to expect from this book. I found it very interesting and I learnt a lot. I didn't realise a lot of what was contained in the book. I especially found it interesting the section on cheerleaders and the chapters on baseball etc. I was given an advance copy by netgalley and the publishers but the review is entirely my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Important litany of those who "took a knee" or "raised a fist"...and more specifically, WHY they did so. It is good know know firsthand of a person's motivation, not merely an outsider's attribution of a made-up reason. It did become a bit repetitious and would probably have made a better newspaper or magazine series than a book... Important litany of those who "took a knee" or "raised a fist"...and more specifically, WHY they did so. It is good know know firsthand of a person's motivation, not merely an outsider's attribution of a made-up reason. It did become a bit repetitious and would probably have made a better newspaper or magazine series than a book...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Subject matter was interesting. I wanted a little more analysis of the interviews or connections to history and the issues but I don’t fault the book for that because that isn’t really what it was about. Some sections were definitely stronger than others. Overall I appreciated hearing the stories of these individuals but the book felt a little drawn out and repetitive at times.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Beechler

    For everyone who never educated themselves on why kneeling was NEVER about the military, but instead about 400 years of oppression, police brutality, and the words “…all men are created equal” being a farce…even today in 2021 America. Fantastic read. #KaepWasRight

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