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The Kaepernick Effect

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The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World by Dave Zirin

232 Pages
Publisher: The New Press
Release Date: September 14, 2021

Nonfiction (Adult), Sports, Politics, Political, Black Lives Matter, Racial Justice, Protest

Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem for two games. He was approached by a military man and asked why. Colin took time to explain how he could not stand for a flag when so many Black lives were being murdered. After the encounter, he began taking a knee, and the world shifted. As soon as Colin began taking a knee, politicians, including Trump, were calling for him to be fired. His act of taking a knee was his way of standing up.

The author discusses how the act of taking a knee affected high school, college, and professional football. It is not a dishonor to soldiers or the military. It is a way to honor those who have lost their voice to violence. The book is very well written and is a fast read. If you are interested in current events, Black Lives Matter, racial justice, you will like this book.
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Filled with powerful stories speaking out for justice. I found it to be a very moving read and am amazed at the strength of so many brave young people.
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I’m admittedly a huge Colin Kaepernick and Dave Zirin fan so having this book about this very specific moment on time is interesting. To get a sense of the scope was powerful. I enjoyed reading about the young people who chose to protest during the national anthem. Their courage is admirable and a reminder that the kids are alright.
Overall this book left me wanting more. I wished Zirin had told fewer stories so he could have dug in deeper and let the reader know more about the circumstances. I wished that he’d interviewed more dissenting voices and found ways to weave them in so we could more fully understand the gravity of the situation when people chose to protest. It’s a fine book for what it is, but I wished it could’ve done more.
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Thank you to The New Press and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

This book features short biographies of athletes from all levels - high school to professional - who took a stand by taking a knee. While the stories were all inspiring and interesting, they started to blend together after a while. It was interesting to read about everyone's differing reasons for their silent protests as well as the reactions they received and the consequences that the majority of them faced. 

#TheKaepernickEffect #NetGalley
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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.
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I found this to be a pretty interesting read! It was interesting to learn about the many different athletes, at all levels who were kneeling during the anthem and doing other protests. Kaepernick gets a lot of press, and so it was interesting to read about the people who are out of the national spotlight, but who are still having significant impacts on their lives from their protests. 

I think that I would have preferred the book if it had been organized differently. I felt that the structure of organizing it by sports level made sense in some ways, but I think that there could have been more discussion about the connections between stories if it had been structured differently. 

Overall, I would recommend this book. Especially if you are a sports fan, it's a good reminder that sports are political!
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Thanks #netgallery for this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed the different stories on how Kaepernick's taking a knee impacted so many. Great book.
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There were many things to appreciate about The Kaepernick Effect, not the least of which was the work Dave Zinn did to research all the events in the book.  He breaks the book down into three groups: high school, college, and professional.

Most of us are familiar with Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during the national anthem and the loss of his football career because of it.  Fewer of us are familiar with the countless high school and college men and women who felt empowered by his choice to follow suit.  Which meant they too, put up with anger, death threats, and wishes for their choices to be expressed differently.  

This book reveals to us the thinking these everyday young heroes went through before they decided to challenge the status quo.  As a teacher, I think it has a place on middle and high school bookshelves.  My only wish is that, after reading these throughly-written accounts, I wanted a little more.  Maybe I wanted it wrapped up nicely with a bow, but I felt like the stories just ended.  And I wondered what my students would do with this new information.  Perhaps I just need to wait and see.
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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.
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Critics of Kaepernick always say the same things: he hates America, he hates the military, he hates the flag. But people who take two minutes out of their life to actually listen to the infamous man who knelt during The National Anthem know that really, he hates police brutality. He doesn’t hate police. He hates when police murder unarmed Black people. The Kaepernick Effect opens up with a quick refresher on who he is and why he chose to do what he knew would be criticized by many who fail to understand or listen to him. The book continues with stories from high school players, college players, and finally professional athletes who all followed in his footsteps in an effort to combat police brutality. In many instances, the same adults who believe these players’ actions are so offensive are the same adults throwing trash at them, cursing at them, and sending death threats to their homes and schools. And in every instance, no matter the backlash, the protesters regret nothing. For most people who chose to kneel, Kaepernick’s sentiments weren’t new or earth shattering. They mirrored the same feelings they had been experiencing their whole life and as a result, they welcomed an opportunity to fight for change and equal treatment in a peaceful way. For those people whose eyes were opened by Kaepernick’s actions and words, they are better, more empathetic individuals for having listened to it.
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The Kaepernick effect is a wonderful book that takes readers on a journey through different teams, athletes, and coaches and shows how their actions impacted their lives and the communities were they lived.  I highly recommend this book for both sports lovers and those interested in racial justice.
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"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.
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THE KAEPERNICK EFFECT by Dave Zirin is subtitled "Taking a Knee, Changing the World" and clearly encompasses social justice issues as well as sports. Zirin, a prolific author and the host of Sirius XM's Edge of Sports Radio, describes the impact and ensuing conversations at high schools, colleges, and the pro level of "hundreds if not thousands of young athletes who took a knee during the national anthem in protest of racism and police brutality." Zirin quotes Kaepernick as saying: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way." Zirin explores why other athletes followed that action and the impact it had on their lives. This is a high interest topic for our students and they will definitely relate to many of the examples and motivations that Zirin outlines. One particularly poignant comment: "Coaches enforce and reinforce this ethos, with a top-down structure that prizes winning over all else and sees any semblance of free thought as a 'distraction' from the ultimate goal.  This is true at every level of sports ... but in high school, where the pressure to fit in is paramount, it is particularly pervasive." THE KAEPERNICK EFFECT received starred reviews from both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly.
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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.
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I'm a fan of Dave Zirin's point of view and am a voracious reader around athlete-activism, so much so that i pre-ordered this book before I even saw it on NetGalley. That's how certain I was that I would love this. And while the topic is important and the courage of the subjects is laudable, I was left disappointed with the book itself. 

Zirin wanted to spotlight the young people, coaches, and professionals who were inspired by Colin Kapernick's protest, and the book covers multiple stories of athletes and coaches who took a knee, faced consequences, and were reinforced in their beliefs. His breadth of subjects and his obvious respect and passion for the topic shine through - as a reader, I was left with gratitude and awe for these brave civilian activists.

But for me, that was unfortunately also why the book wasn't as strong as I had hoped - it felt like there was so much (understandable) reverence for the subjects and the movement that the book itself suffered by not "interfering.". Rather than organizing the stories into any narratives, or offering much commentary, the book simply lays out account after account through overly long passages of what seems like interview transcript. There's power in the repetition, of course, but the stories differ so little from each other that it felt a little monotonous, without much nuance. In the few excellent glimpses of Zirin's own voice, at the beginning of each section, I felt like I could see what this book might have been with more analysis, or more framing, or simply more of Zirin in the writing, commentary, and interviewing. But in my opinion, this isn't that book. 

I'm grateful to NetGalley for the chance to read and provide my honest review.
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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 other books, this book was mostly 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. Overall an interesting read, I just found myself wanting a deeper look. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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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.
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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 that Zirin draws attention to the links between sport and politics and culture.

 If anything this book 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.
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The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact that one person could have on the world.  Looking back on the time, not so long ago, when he decided to express himself in a quiet and dignified way the original reaction was to ruin his career.  This book connects that act and that reaction through to what has now become a movement.  Anyone who wants to understand how a grassroots movement can really work, should check it out.
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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.
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