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The political side of sports: Colin Kaepernick isn’t the first athlete to stage a protest on the field

Click to play video: 'Backlash against 49ers quarterback Kaepernick over American anthem stance' Backlash against 49ers quarterback Kaepernick over American anthem stance
WATCH ABOVE: Backlash against 49ers quarterback Kaepernick over American anthem stance. Jackson Proskow reports – Aug 29, 2016

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick courted controversy Friday after refusing to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game Friday.

Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to the 2013 Super Bowl said he sat on the bench during the U.S. national anthem to make a statement about racial injustice in the United States.

READ MORE: 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick will sit through anthem until there’s change

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”

But this isn’t the first time sports and politics have collided. Here is a look at some other moments when sports and politics have mixed:

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Muhammad Ali

In this May 25, 1965, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott, left, after Ali knocked out challenger Sonny Liston. (AP Photo/File)
In this May 25, 1965, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott, left, after Ali knocked out challenger Sonny Liston. (AP Photo/File).

On April 28, 1967, boxing legend Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces during the height of the Vietnam war.

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America,” Ali said at the time.

His refusal eventually led to his arrest, a fine of $10,000 and a three-year boxing ban in the U.S.

Olympic athletes  John Carlos and Tommie Smith

US athletes Tommie Smith (C) and John Carlos (R) raise their gloved fists in the Black Power salute to express their opposition to racism in the USA during the US national anthem, after receiving their medals 17 October 1968.

During the 1968 Olympics, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists in the Black Power salute on the podium to express their opposition to racism in America. Smith won gold during the men’s 200m event at the Mexico Olympic Games; Carlos won bronze.

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The Tenors

The Tenors, shown on the scoreboard, perform during the Canadian National Anthem prior to the MLB baseball All-Star Game, in San Diego. A member of a Canadian singing quartet changed a lyric in his country’s national anthem and held up a sign proclaiming “All Lives Matter” during a pregame performance at the 87th All-Star Game on Tuesday. AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Canadian band The Tenors caused outrage when one of their members altered the lyrics to O Canada prior to the MLB All-Star Game at Petco Park in San Diego in July.

Singer Remigio Pereira sang “We’re all brothers and sisters. All lives matter to the brave,” instead of “With glowing hearts we see thee rise. The True North strong and free.”

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder baffled by Canadian anthem change by The Tenors

Pereira — who sang the altered lyric alone — also held up a sign during the performance saying “All Lives Matter” and the words “United We Stand” on the back of the sign.

The group later apologized for Pereira’s actions, explaining that he acted alone. Pereira addressed the incident on Twitter saying, “I’ve been so moved lately by the tragic loss of life and I hoped for a positive statement that would bring us ALL together. That was my singular motivation when I said all lives matter.”

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WATCH: The Tenors strike a sour note over ‘All Lives Matter’ rendition of ‘O Canada’

Click to play video: 'The Tenors strike a sour note over ‘All Lives Matter’ rendition of ‘O Canada’' The Tenors strike a sour note over ‘All Lives Matter’ rendition of ‘O Canada’
The Tenors strike a sour note over ‘All Lives Matter’ rendition of ‘O Canada’ – Jul 13, 2016

St. Louis Rams

Tavon Austin #11, Jared Cook #89, Chris Givens #13 of the St. Louis Rams pay homage to Mike Brown. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images). Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In 2014, members of the St. Louis Rams paid homage to Michael Brown – an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri – by holding their hands up during their pre-game introduction against the Oakland Raiders. The “hands up” symbol has become synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Carlos Delgado

Toronto Blue Jays former player Carlos Delgado throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to game four of the American League Championship. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images). (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Former Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado refused to stand during the singing of God Bless America, played during the seventh inning stretch in the U.S.during the 2003-2004 MLB season in protest of the Iraq war.

However, Delgado’s protest of the song wasn’t even made public until the Toronto Star published an article quoting Delgado as saying, “I think it’s the stupidest war ever. Who are you fighting against? You’re just getting ambushed now.”

Several NBA players

LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in New York. Professional athletes have worn “I Can’t Breathe” messages in protest of a grand jury ruling not to indict an officer in the death of a New York man. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
LeBron James warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in New York. Professional athletes have worn “I Can’t Breathe” messages in protest of a grand jury ruling not to indict an officer in the death of a New York man. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens).

In 2014, several NBA players and teams wore shirts with the phrase “I can’t breathe” written on them, to protest the death of Eric Garner – a black man who died from his injuries after being put in a chokehold by police in California. Garner was heard saying the phrase 11 times while police held him down.

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READ MORE: James, Irving and multiple Nets players warm up in ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts

NBA stars, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, wore the shirts during practices and warm-ups in support of the Black Lives Matters campaign.

“I respect…all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues, but my preference would be for players to abide by our on-court attire rules,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa

As Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line Sunday, he threw his arms over his head making an “X” in a show of support for members of his Oromo tribe. (REUTERS/Athit). REUTERS/Athit

During the Rio Olympics, Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa staged a controversial political protest that overshadowed his silver medal finish in the Olympic marathon and left him fearing for his life. 

READ MORE: Ethiopian marathoner fears for his life after making political protest gesture during race

As Lilesa crossed the finish line, he threw his arms over his head making an “X” in a show of support for members of his Oromo tribe. The Oromo tribe has been protesting the Ethiopian government’s plans to reallocate farmland surrounding the capital for development. The plans prompted fierce demonstrations last November, sparking the country’s worst unrest in more than a decade.

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He later said he feared the government would kill him for his sign of protest.

With files from The Associated Press and Global News’ Kevin Neilsen

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