Former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick was announced as this years Muhammad Ali Legacy award winner on Thursday.
Colin Kaepernick is sure to provoke strong reactions whenever his name is brought up. He is the person credited with starting the protest movement in the NFL after he kneeled during the national anthem because of his feelings of injustice in America. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated announced Kaepernick is the 2017 winner of the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
For readers who are unfamiliar with what the award is meant to embody, this description from the press release explains the awards criteria.
The Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award goes each year to an athlete or sports figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and uses sports as a platform to change the world. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will feature Kaepernick’s charitable efforts in its upcoming Sportsperson of the Year issue.
Kaepernick’s protest is still resonating in the NFL and around the country, even though he hasn’t been on an NFL roster this season. Surely this award will not sit well with a large group who view Kaepernick in an unfavorable light but Sports Illustrated believes this award went to exactly the right person.
“Muhammad Ali’s enduring legacy is built around the ideals of equality and individual expression and the importance of standing behind one’s beliefs regardless of the cost,” said Sports Illustrated executive editor Stephen Cannella. “There will never be another Ali, but few athletes have followed his example as fully as Colin Kaepernick. In this noisy political and media environment, it’s easy to forget his core message: that all people in this country deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and recognition of their civil rights. Too often that message has been lost in the debate over how it is expressed. Colin has sacrificed much in the name of that message, even as he has furthered it with significant charitable efforts that are making a real difference in communities at the grassroots level.”
This award is not given out lightly and the Ali family works with Sports Illustrated to choose the recipient.
“I am proud to be able to present this year’s SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” said Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow. Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. He has used his celebrity and philanthropy to benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members. I know the Ali family joins me in congratulating Colin as he receives the 2017 SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.”
Some will always believe Kaepernick did not give up anything to spread his message and claim he was simply not good enough to play in the NFL any longer. When you combine his play and the media circus, it’s very easy to write off Colin Kaepernick as the football player.
Colin Kaepernick as a member of the community has donated time, effort and over $1 million of his money to try to help spread his message of equality. Sports Illustrated will feature these efforts in an upcoming issue of the magazine and the award ceremony will be televised. The taping of the ceremony will air on NBCSN on Friday, December 8th at 8 p.m.