The Kaepernick Effect
Taking a Knee, Changing the World
by Dave Zirin
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Pub Date 14 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 14 Sep 2021
Riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how “taking a knee” triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter
“The Kaepernick Effect reveals that Colin Kaepernick’s story is bigger than one athlete. With profiles of courage that leap off the page, Zirin uncovers a whole national movement of citizen-athletes fighting for racial justice.” —Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, the celebrated NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. By “taking a knee,” Kaepernick bravely joined a long tradition of American athletes making powerful political statements. This time, however, Kaepernick’s simple act spread like wildfire throughout American society, becoming the preeminent symbol of resistance to America’s persistent racial inequality.
Critically acclaimed sports journalist and author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States, Dave Zirin chronicles “the Kaepernick effect” for the first time, through interviews with a broad cross-section of professional athletes across many different sports, college stars and high-powered athletic directors, and high school athletes and coaches. In each case, he uncovers the fascinating explanations and motivations behind a mass political movement in sports, through deeply personal and inspiring accounts of risk-taking, activism, and courage both on and off the field.
A book about the politics of sport, and the impact of sports on politics, The Kaepernick Effect is for anyone seeking to understand an essential dimension of the new movement for racial justice in America.
"With The Kaepernick Effect Dave Zirin has offered us a gift: a powerful chronicle of the national uprising inspired by the Movement for Black Lives in the world of sport. This will be the go-to text on athlete activism for years to come."
—Frank Andre Guridy, author of The Sports Revolution: How Texas Changed the Culture of American Athletics
"In this captivating book, Zirin puts into sharp relief the activist potential of young athletes, and how they can serve as dismantlers of intersectional oppression."
—Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder and executive director, African American Policy Forum
"Sharp and illuminating and a joy to read, Zirin’s analysis of events is unparalleled for its clarity and force. This book has been missing from our understanding of the current political moment; Zirin has filled the void."
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
"Dave Zirin . . . allows those influenced by Colin Kaepernick to explain why America wasn’t ready for him—but needed him to show how far we are from where we should want to be as a nation."
—Michael Lee, sports enterprise writer, The Washington Post
"An enthralling look at the impact of peaceful protest by sports figures at the high school, college, and professional levels . . . offers rousing evidence of the life-changing effects spurred by individual action."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A powerful testimonial. Lessons in civic courage leap from every page as we see these amazing athletes risk everything to change this country and help set the stage for the racial reckoning we now face. Read this book and be inspired to fight for a new America!"
—Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author of Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
"The Kaepernick Effect stands alone in capturing the true impact of the former quarterback’s peaceful protest, which was to inspire a generation. Zirin’s interviews with athletes of all ages are meticulous and fascinating, cementing Kaepernick’s status as one of the most significant athletes in American history."
—Mina Kimes, ESPN
"How many Black people have to die at the hands of racist cops before white America listens to those voices? The Kaepernick Effect needs to be read by those who continue to deny racism and police brutality."
—Chris Lamb, co-author of Sports Journalism: A History of Glory, Fame, and Technology
"Dave Zirin hits the bulls-eye with this textured examination of the man behind the movement and the movement inspired by the man."
—Sekou Smith, NBA TV/NBA.com senior analyst
"The Kaepernick Effect reveals that Colin Kaepernick’s story is bigger than one athlete. With profiles of courage that leap off the page, Zirin uncovers a whole national movement of citizen-athletes fighting for racial justice."
—Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 28 members
The Kaepernick Effect documents the impact of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of police brutality, and follows the stories of other athletes inspired to do the same. Separated into sections for high school, college, and professional sports, those interviewed for the book discuss the motivation behind their decision to kneel and the resulting reactions they received in the aftermath.
I have read a couple of Zirin's prior books, and looked forward to reading and having the opportunity to review The Kaepernick Effect. The purpose of the book is clear in the title and very straightforward throughout the book. I liked the layout of the book and the style of how it was written, with the author really taking a backseat and letting the athletes tell their stories. These are voices that may have otherwise been unheard or misconstrued based on the politicization of this issue, and all of them brought together makes this a powerful read. I would recommend The Kaepernick Effect to any reader with an interest in the topic.
Thanks to Netgalley and The New Press for this ARC; this is my honest and voluntary review.
This is an outstanding book looking at layers of the Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement that changed sports. We're aware of what happened to the NFL Quarterback, but this looks at college and high school sports through a new light. I was in awe reading about the brave students who stood up for what they believed in against adversity. A must read for any sports fan who values human rights.
As a sport psychology student I have been following the activism in sports for years. John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s black power salute has been one of my favourite iconic moments in sport history and Colin Kaepernicks kneel came right behind it. During my studies I wrote a paper on why Kaepernick should not have lost his career because of his protest and have become a huge fan of his. This book was truly inspiring and extremely educational. As a white woman in Canada, I couldn’t even fathom that these events spoken about in the book were real. The collection of stories about protests similar to Kaepernicks were empowering and awe worthy. I highly recommend this book to people from all walks of life and to remember that #blacklivesmatter
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