The Kaepernick Effect did exactly as the synopsis promised - providing the stories of those that had followed in former San Francisco 49’s Quarterback Colin 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.
Synopsis via Goodreads
Some may feel that the book is somewhat 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. I was always planning on watching but after reading this book I'm even more intrigued to watch the upcoming Netflix series on Kaepernick and get a better understanding of the man behind the movement.
I've always felt that there is an intersection between sport, politics and culture, which Zirin demonstrates throughout the book.
If anything this book left me thinking '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.
Thank you to NetGalley and New Press for the ARC.
If you'd like to grab your own copy and hear more about these driven and inspiring people, you can do so here.