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#ImWithKap: Why celebrities boycotted Super Bowl 2019

How Colin Kaepernick still drew attention despite not having played in an NFL game since 2017

The hashtag #ImWithKap was trending in support of former football player Colin Kaepernick during Super Bowl LIII. AP
The hashtag #ImWithKap was trending in support of former football player Colin Kaepernick during Super Bowl LIII. AP

The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, to win Super Bowl LIII on Sunday. While the Super Bowl is generally one of the most tuned into sporting events, some specifically didn't watch this game.

Why? Using the hashtag #ImWithKap, several celebrities took to social media to say they'd be boycotting it in support of former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The controversy

Kaepernick is a former starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2013 – the organisation's first in 19 years. However, he made international headlines after declining to stand for the US national anthem in a pre-season match in 2016, as a way to protest the country’s treatment of racial minorities.

epa06758083 (FILE) - San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick (C), San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (L), and San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid (R) take a knee during the US national anthem before the NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, USA, 02 October 2016 (reissued 23 May 2018). According to media reports, NFL team owners approved a policy for players to stand and not to kneel during the national anthem. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO
Colin Kaepernick, centre, and other players of San Francisco 49ers kneel during the US national anthem in 2016. EPA

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour," he said in a post-game interview.

"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.

"There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Throughout the season, he went from sitting to kneeling. While there were those who supported his gesture, he also faced massive backlash, with some claiming his actions were "un-American". He continued to kneel for the anthem before every game and, after opting out of his contract at the end of the 2016 season, was unable to find another team to sign him, essentially leaving him jobless.

Celebrity support

He's still got his supporters, though. On February 3, during Super Bowl LIII, celebrity fans took to social media, using the trending hashtag #ImWithKap and expressed clearly their reasons for not watching.

Director Ava DuVernay, who helmed A Wrinkle in Time and Selma, wrote:

And Spider-Man: Far From Home actress Zendaya reminded everyone of her stance:

Rapper Cardi B claims she turned down playing at the halftime show with Maroon 5 because of it. She told the Associated Press: “My husband, he loves football. His kids play football. It’s really hard for him… He really wants to go to the Super Bowl, but he can’t go to the Super Bowl, because he’s got to stand for something. You have to sacrifice that. I got to sacrifice a lot of money to perform. But there’s a man who sacrificed his job for us, so we got to stand behind him.”

Journalist Shaun King posted why he was boycotting the league entirely:

Actress Jodie Turner-Smith also shared her thoughts on Twitter.

Rapper-actor Common also expressed his thoughts. Simply saying "You know where I Stand".

Actress Piper Perabo shared a photo; a statement she was also standing in solidarity.

Singer Janelle Monae also shared her support.

Author Kendra Alvey admitted she was keeping herself busy every Sunday, including the day of the big Super Bowl.

Kaepernick hasn't played in a football game since 2017 and it remains to be seen if he ever will again. However, things could pick up, as former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly told TMZ Sports that Kaepernick is "ready to go" and that "anybody that wants a good quarterback" should sign him.

Updated: February 4, 2019 04:19 PM