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Dave Zirin

On The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

In conversation with David Filipi


Author and sports editor for the Nation Dave Zirin joins Wex Director of Film/Video to discuss Zirin's new book The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World—a look at the ripple effect throughout the sports world and broader culture following Colin Kaepernick’s act of social protest.

During the 2016 NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick began to sit during the national anthem as a protest against a recent series of police shootings of Black Americans. The protest went unnoticed for weeks until a sportswriter asked Kaepernick about it. Kaepernick responded, in part: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” His words caused a firestorm, drawing outrage from many quarters but inspiring many other athletes to join him in acts of resistance. After talking with former Green Beret and NFL player Nate Boyer, Kaepernick began to take a knee as an act of both dissent and respect, which both hoped would calm the rhetoric around the situation. It didn’t.  Kaepernick was released by the 49ers in early 2017 (despite a solid 2016 season) and has not been signed by another NFL team.

In The Kaepernick Effect (The New Press), Zirin examines the political movement that was sparked by the quarterback's iconic gesture and continues to this day. The book also chronicles the lives of athletes and other figures across sports, from high school to professional, and how their activism has impacted their athletic pursuits. Zirin regularly writes about the intersection of sports and politics and the activism of such pioneers as Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Billie Jean King, Craig Hodges, and many others.

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Dave Zirin in a dark shirt. he has short dark hair and no facial hair.

Dave Zirin | Photo courtesy of The New Press

Bookcover for The Kaepernick Effect. The book is orange with white text displaying the title. In the center of the cover is a photo of Colin Kaepernick kneeling

Courtesy of The New Press

About the Author

Dave Zirin chevron-down chevron-up

Dave Zirin, arguably the go-to progressive voice on sports in the US, is the Nation’s sports editor and posts regularly on his Edge of Sports website. A regular contributor to the New York Times and Washington Post, among other outlets, Zirin is also the author of numerous books including A People’s History of Sports in the United States (2009); The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World (2011); Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy (2014); and Jim Brown: Last Man Standing (2018). In 2009 Zirin was named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World.”

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