We have not only seen recent images of protesters taking knees to protest racism and inequality issues, but also elected U.S. congressional representatives in Washington, D.C. — en masse.
All this is connected to what former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick did in 2016, when he took his first knee during the national anthem. (He has remained unsigned to a team since 2017.)
Now here’s what Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, said recently: “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Was that alluding to Kaepernick? Oh, yeah. And just that statement alone says volumes about what we may expect this fall.
How will this play out on TV?
The last time around, TV included varying numbers of kneeling players who sided with Kaepernick's stance against racism. This time around, players of all types might view this as a much more important action to take, given the widespread and continued protests in dozens of cities and locations.
But this will have a different kind of impact — because there will be far less fans in stands. This will first show itself with the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL, when their respective seasons start up again sometime next month.
It would be hard to imagine -- even if city and town protests die down somewhat -- that sports TV viewers won’t see some visible changes on TV. Sports leagues will encourage changes, in respect to their athletes. So will TV marketers. Creative commercial messages will be affected.
And then, there is the obvious visual about Kaepernick himself, who has been virtually shunned by NFL teams since 2016, according to many. He hasn't been recruited — even as a backup quarterback.
Imagine the reaction when and if Kaepernick actually gets in a game this season. Even with no fans in stadiums cheering or responding, just with fans as home, his mostly quiet run into the huddle might mean something.