Stephen Curry Blasts Sports Illustrated 'Unity' Cover for Not Including Colin Kaepernick

Stephen Curry Blasts Sports Illustrated 'Unity' Cover for Not Including Colin Kaepernick

A few days ago, Sports Illustrated revealed a cover addressing the protests against police brutality and racial inequality via kneeling during the national anthem. The cover was supposed to represent the increasing unity between professional athletes (particularly in the NFL) in protesting both the original issues first brought to attention in this fashion by Colin Kaepernick, as well as the responses by President Trump. There was only one problem: Sports Illustrated didn't include Kaepernick on the cover.

In a very bizarre editorial decision, Sports Illustrated recently released the cover shown below.

The front row shows LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Roger Goodell linking arms, representing the unity professional athletes and sports organizations have shown as the national anthem protests continue to generate controversy. James and Curry recently jumped to front of the issue when Curry declined an invitation to the White House (typically extended to championship teams of major sports), prompting the president to rescind the invitation, which then prompted James to fire back at the president. Goodell, as commissioner of the NFL, appears there as the head of the sport at the center of the controversy, having recently called the president's comments "divisive" and saying he was "proud" of the league's response this past Sunday. 

James, Curry, and Goodell are certainly three logical figures to have on the cover given the situation, but many immediately pointed out that it was not who was on the cover, but who wasn't, namely Colin Kaepernick, whose initial kneeling protest last year was the genesis of the current situation. Stephen Curry himself called it "terrible," saying:

The real people that understand exactly what’s been going on and who’s really been active and vocal and truly making a difference... if you don’t have Kaepernick front and center on that, then something’s wrong.

Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Steven Cannella defended the cover, saying it was meant to show the emerging "unity" of the sports world and saying "in some ways, even though his picture is not there, Colin Kaepernick is there," and mentioning that the cover was meant to show the new and emerging voices.

Even with that explanation, it seems utterly bizarre to not put Kaepernick on the cover, given his pivotal role. What are you thoughts? Regardless of your stance on the protests, was the imagery chosen for the cover an appropriate representation from a photographic standpoint? 

[via Deadspin]

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Previous comments
Anonymous's picture

First, white supremacy is not only people with hoods or swastikas. It can just be the causal belief that white people are more civilized or more American, etc... That is not a small group in this country.

Second, this incident is part of a historic pattern in America. Only if you completely ignore all of the related things that lead up to this incident, could it seem like I'm the one overreacting.

Mike Schrengohst's picture

If I were "talented" enough to play pro sports and earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year in a country that is a leader in human rights then I would be standing at rigid attention when I hear my National anthem. If these players feel so abused by America I will start a GoFundMe to buy them tickets to anywhere else in the world where they think they could do better. Perhaps some of these players - and I know for a fact many do - should fund foundations to help the under privileged youth of America. And teach them history and explain how 1/2 millions Americans died in a civil war so that the blacks could start towards the march to freedom. My brother-in-law is a 20 year military veteran serving in South Korea right now. He is on the front line. I don't think he appreciates millionaires dissing America - but he will fight to protect their right to do so.

Anonymous's picture

They're kneeling to acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do in America, not saying that nothing that's been accomplished before doesn't matter. The flag is a symbol of the promise of America and they are kneeling to highlight an area where we as a society are failing to live up to that promise. Speaking truth to power is as American as it gets -- so is people with power using their voice to speak up for the powerless.

Anonymous's picture

If you want to live in a country where citizens are forced to worship it might I suggest North Korea? North America isn't like that.

Studio 403's picture

My interest is the photographer who set the shot up. The look and position of Roger Goodell head. What the photographe had in mind for this shot.

Undesirably noticeable, this “circus” of theatrics brings to mind slave owners (NFL owners) and their plantation (football field and workers) showing off their slaves. Even if the slave makes 20 million a year, he is still a slave and owned the plantation owners.

In the ancient of days a slave always got patted on the back for being “good boys”. In my view the first admendment is a red herring at play in this game of optics. What seems to be lost is understanding honor and dignity.. Both pro and con folks what is appropriate dissent on a football field, this photo, falsely named unity, have lost the battle of truth.

In my own experience, walking in truth, candidly impossible. Only the grace of God and mercy offer me true redemption from my twisted soul.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

To the point of your first paragraph, the image is Photoshopped. No one set it up. How SI chose those particular images to composite together, and if there was deeper meaning to the specific poses and how they link together could be interesting to further explore.

Studio 403's picture

Thanks, I thought the covers may be a composite. Thanks you. Would enjoy being a fly on the wall in the selection process. I understand the visuals. For me is a so so cover, with no originality.,

Anonymous's picture

Slaves don't have a choice of employer/owner. NFL players most certainly do. I understand your point but you risk diminishing the fate of true slaves with your comparison.

Studio 403's picture

good point, I know writing this style is risky. I thiink Sike Lee has some thoughts about the same issue . Thank you for your reply

Deleted Account's picture

Maybe I can give you my unbiased "news" view on this. I dont' watch football and I dislike politics so my viewpoint isn't about either.

From a news reporting photographic standpoint, it is a disservice to leave out the person who started the movement. It denies the facts and it misrepresents the movement, making it look like the NFL team chose to do this together. While they did eventually stand together in protest, they were not the ones to start it. Kappernick should be included on the cover if Sports Illustrated want to report the news. Because he is not, they are only photographically representing half of the NFL story.

Anonymous's picture

Like you, I don't follow football but I thought somewhat less than half of NFL players participated in the various activities or lack thereof.

Deleted Account's picture

I wouldn’t be able to answer that. I can’t even list current players. Heck I wouldn’t even know any teams. Lol

Mike Yamin's picture

So this is a once-a-week thing now at Fstoppers? Stop stirring the pot. No matter how much you insist, this isn't about photography. "In a very bizarre editorial decision, Sports Illustrated recently released the cover shown below." Who says it's bizarre? Kaepernick hasn't been front and center on this issue lately and that's how the media works.

michael andrew's picture

Certainly telling a story, in this case a photo illustration, has to come with some editing. It is odd to most that the beginning of this particular story (Colin being the most vocal abut the issue as well as the most focused for the most amount of time) was left out considering that person was the instigator of this movement. Had this been an actual photograph then I wouldn't even think about it, however being how it is a photo illustration I am perplexed.

Robert Nurse's picture

A misstep was obviously taken in the photo. One has to wonder though. Was it with intent?

Anonymous's picture

You think it was a misstep? It's not at all obvious to me. To reach such a conclusion, one would have to know their goal and I'm not certain we do.

Robert Nurse's picture

On a journalistic front, of course it is! Would you photograph the 1998 Yankees and "forget" Derek Jeter? Would you feature the New England Patriots without Tom Brady? People would DEFINITELY notice the absence and wonder why they're not featured. Same holds here.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe. But a lot of people think the current motivation for these gestures is different than Colin's original reasons. A few options would be to:
1. Include him, thereby focusing on the gesture rather than the reasons.
2. Exclude him, changing the focus from racial inequality to Presidential interference.
3. Creatively include him in a way that visually shows the evolution of the movement.

Personally, as I said before, I think they wanted to ride the train without buying a ticket. :-/

Kirk Darling's picture

Kaepernick himself is old news. This story is not about him, it's about the "new" news of the row between Trump and the NFL and the reaction of other sports figures to THAT.

michael buehrle's picture

YES ……...

Anonymous's picture

You're welcome! :-)

Lee Morris's picture

Ohhh I've been counting the seconds until your thoughtful, reasonable, comment would arrive ;)

michael andrew's picture

So good, you cant make that shit up. People actually think like that.

michael andrew's picture

Are you asking yourself that?

Anonymous's picture

While there certainly is white racism toward blacks, there is also a similar level of black racism toward whites. Some think it's not possible since they supposedly don't have any power but racism can be a thought, words, or actions. For Bob to state black racism toward whites is the only widespread problem isn't accurate but dismissing it out of hand is also erroneous.
You can be liked by your peers or respected for your honesty. You can't be both and sometimes neither.

Anonymous's picture

I didn't say black racism doesn't occur. I said it's not the only widespread problem. While overt, sanctioned racism directed toward white people far outnumbers similar actions toward minorities, I include racist thought and speech as well. I've lived in many areas and traveled a lot, as have you. You know racist speech and thought, on both sides, exists. Whether or not it's a problem is debatable I suppose but, in my opinion, it is. To me, the effects on individuals are a far greater problem than the effects on society. Society doesn't have to go home, look in the mirror and ask, "why do they hate me?"

Anonymous's picture

Of course you don't know what individuals are thinking and I wouldn't lightly accuse anyone of racist thought but, in a general way, yes, you know it exists. I'm not saying it should be searched out and eradicated. I'm saying it exists and, it is relevant because actions are born of thoughts. Please don't misunderstand. I don't think racism, except for systemic racism, can or should be addressed by society. It's a problem who's solution can only be dealt with through mutual respect. Tolerance is BS. Tolerance implies the "other" is wrong, either intrinsically or by their actions. Respect, on the other hand, holds that you aren't judging them and only judging their actions after thorough investigation.

I know racist thought and speech exists on both sides because I've experienced it. That's not PC or cowardly. If you want to call me a liar, that's fine but I wouldn't lightly make such accusations.

I am a Christian. In my world view, the individual is responsible for their actions. While society and the family structure certainly influence it, responsibility lies with individuals. According to your reasoning, a murderer can argue their actions were mostly determined by others. I'm quite certain that's not your intent.

While I enjoy these kinds of exchanges, I don't intend to continue as this isn't really the place for it. If there were a forum for such discourse where people could reasonably debate, I would love to continue there.

Let me end by saying I loved your comparison of a married couple to the topic at hand. :-)

Anonymous's picture

When I wrote "you" I meant people in general, not you specifically.

I care what people think but, again, would never suggest anything be done about it because being a Christian, I'm far more concerned with an individual's soul than their effect on society. But then, I'm an atypical Christian as well. In the same way, I cared if one of my children had ill feelings toward their peers but tried to lovingly correct it rather than punish it. In a lot of cases, I couldn't do anything but I still cared.

I'm not interested in blame. I only care about solutions. Finding the cause of a problem, so it can be corrected, is connotatively different from assigning blame.

"The flag is not a promise of anything; it is simply a symbol of the country. Using your logic a person would also take down any wedding photos in their home just because they had an argument with their spouse."
You're welcome. :-)

Robert Nurse's picture

I'm not even going to try here. American History and it's ramifications aren't even taken seriously.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Well, what is happening is very clear. Sports Illustrated just took advantage of controversy and made more controversy, the result? More sales, more people talking about S.I..
Now, about all of this US internal racism, as an european sometimes it is easy and hard to understand what is going on. Police brutallity happens everywhere, including in this somehow forgotten-used-to-be-empire named Portugal.
In the US, if the research is done with care, we can all look at numbers and understand that black man is killing more black man, than police is, thing is, maybe american's do not expect that fellow officers behaviour and they should stand out as an example. I also believe that, being an officer in a country riddled with guns might be a very stressful situation. Also, how is it that soldiers, who served in wat theatres like Iraq and Afeghanistan, are allwed to become police officers?
As for photography, well, an image can make changes, but nowadays they are forgotten in days, if not hours. Who remembers the syrian baby being picked up dead at a beach? Most don't.