The Canceling Of America: Candace Owens, Clay Travis Go Off On Woke Sports 

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During her show this week, Candace Owens, host of Daily Wire’s “Candace,” talked with Outkick founder Clay Travis about the sports industry’s self-inflicted wounds from embracing the divisive “cancel America” sentiment.

After taking aim earlier in the show at the corrosive effects of the “cancel” mentality in American culture more generally, Owens kicked off her conversation with Travis by pointing to the sports figure who helped “mainstream” the idea of “the canceling of America.” Anyone trying to trace the current wave of anti-American sentiment in the sports industry, said the host, would inevitably point to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“I think you’re right,” Travis replied. “In 2016, Colin Kaepernick took a knee. A lot of people forget Barack Obama was president of the United States at the time because people want to conflate it with Donald Trump. But in the pre-season game, after he had lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert — San Francisco 49ers — he decided not to stand for the national Anthem. And from there, it became in vogue to do that, and now it’s almost braver to stand for the national Anthem than it is to kneel.”

The Kaepernick-sparked movement, Owens maintained, is increasingly robbing Americans of a crucial means of unplugging from the exhausting political sphere. “You just want to turn off politics. You want to turn off the weekly stress, and they can no longer do that,” she said of sports fans. 

Along with Kaepernick, the two talked about former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, playing clips of his initial strong stand against the anthem protests, in which he cited his grandfather’s role in fighting for freedom in World War II, followed by his “hostage video” apology in which he asked for forgiveness for criticizing the protests of the flag.

Partial transcript of the discussion below:  

TRAVIS: [W]hat I’ve always said is we need places in America where we’re all united and you don’t think about what might differentiate us, right? So if you’re in a stadium or you’re in an arena, if your team wins or your team scores, you turn around and high-five somebody. You don’t think about their race, their ethnicity, their religion, their sexuality, any of these identity politics buzzwords, you think about the fact that you share a team, you cut across tribal differences, and it brings you all together.

I heard you talking about Michael Jordan and the way that you felt in 1998, when he hit the jumper against the Utah Jazz — for Utah fans out there, he definitely pushed off by the way, before he hit the jumper — but he got away with it. But a good stat for you: In the most recent NBA finals, they averaged a little over 7 million people watching each of the games — LeBron James’ LA Lakers going up against the Miami Heat. When Jordan made that jumper, 37 million people were watching. 

Some people will say if people simply say, “Well, people won’t watch sports the same way.” No, no, no. Since 1998, when Jordan made that jumper, the NFL’s audience has gotten a lot bigger. The NBA’s has gone from nearly 37 million people to 7 million people. Where did those 30 million people go? Particularly when you consider the United States population has increased by 50 million since then. It’s crazy. 

OWENS: And you know, they were called racist and they were called white supremacists, and a lot of people just got sick of it and said, “You know what? This no longer makes me feel good. So why am I giving my money?” … You just want to turn off politics. You want to turn off the weekly stress, and they can no longer do that. And the argument that you hear on the Left, is that, “Okay, Well, you know what, Colin Kaepernick is just expressing himself and this is how the flag makes him feel and that should be okay.” But you realize that that argument kind of falls flat, because when people express themselves in the opposite direction. Case in point: Drew Brees. 


OWENS: When he made a very sound argument for standing for the national Anthem, it didn’t garner the same reaction… [plays clip of Brees statement]

[BREES: I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country. Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. Every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag, and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about, and in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed. Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and everyone, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go, but I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.]

TRAVIS: For an athlete, let’s be honest — he’s not a professional politician, he doesn’t speak for a living — that is as flawless, to me, of an answer about why you stand for the national Anthem as could be given. He got killed for it. 

OWENS: Yeah, why did he get killed for this? This actually sounded like a uniting message. He brought up the civil rights movement, he brought up his grandfather, he said “This is what the flag means to me,” and he was representative of how so many people in America feel because, don’t forget, their sons come back home overseas under that flag in coffins. You know, when we have the military men that are going overseas and actually sacrificing their lives so that we can enjoy these games, right? And yet they said, “No, this is not okay.”

TRAVIS: He had teammates, Candace, who posted videos on social media crying because of what you just heard Drew Brees say. 

OWENS: Oh with friends like that, who needs enemies? 

TRAVIS: That’s what I’m saying! I mean, because his own teammates threw him under the bus. And you were talking, I think so perceptively, about Colin Kaepernick. The question that I’ve asked, and I think is a fantastic one, and I think people will enjoy as well: If Colin Kaepernick had taken a knee while playing for the San Francisco 49ers to protest gay marriage being legal, they would have demanded that he not be able to play for the San Francisco 49ers anymore. So when people say they’re supporting his First Amendment rights — that’s not true. They are supporting First Amendment rights of someone saying something they agree with, right? 

Because regardless of what you think — I don’t care what you think about gay marriage or abortion or guns or any other hot button issue. If the National Anthem is playing and you take a stand because you disagree with something about America, during the Anthem, then you are distracting from the reason why people are there, which is to celebrate the sport. And the reason the Anthem plays, in my mind, is to make us all recognize and understand the perspective of how fortunate we all are to be able to show up and care so deeply about something that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter that much, right? Like who wins a game? I want my team to win. You, when you play sports, you want your team to win. But at the end of the day, the freedoms that we all share is the reason why we get to care about things like this.

OWENS: Yeah, and so the NFL was happy to have Colin Kaepernick have his freedom of speech. They were not happy for Drew Brees to have his freedom of speech. 

TRAVIS: Think about how crazy that is! That’s as flawless as you can be!

OWENS: He had to come back and he had to apologize. [Plays clip.]

[BREES: I would like to apologize to my friends, teammates, the City of New Orleans, the black community, NFL community and anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday. In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country. They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.]

OWENS: I picture somebody, like his PR agent just being like, “Read this script real quick.”

TRAVIS: It looks like a hostage video. 

OWENS: It is a hostage video. We are like a hostage. 

TRAVIS: We’re all hostage by the way, particularly in sports, right? …

OWENS: You know, it also sucks because you see him talking about the sacrifice that his grandparents made. 

TRAVIS: They fought Nazis, Candace! Not like people you call Nazis. Actual Nazis! 

OWENS: It would have been nice to see Drew Brees, you know, fight the actual fascists in this country who don’t want him to have freedom of speech. But he didn’t do that…

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