Because our POTUS can’t miss an opportunity to weigh in on the things that don’t matter.

President Obama commented Monday on the controversy with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, saying the athlete is “exercising his constitutional right to make a statement” when he refuses to stand for our National Anthem.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback refused to stand up during the national anthem before the third week pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers – which they lost 21-10.

Why did he forfeit any and all patriotism? Well, in the name of social justice, of course. After the game, Kaepernick released a statement saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He went on to say, “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.”

Here is the full statement from President Obama:

In terms of Mr Kaepernick, I have to confess I haven’t been thinking of football while I have been over here and I haven’t been following this closely.

But my understanding is that he is exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so and I think there are a lot of ways you can do it. As a general matter when it comes to the flag and the national anthem but the meaning that holds for the men and women who have fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past and to then hear what his deeper concerns are.

I don’t doubt his sincerity based on what I have heard. I think he cares about some real legitimate issues that need to be talked about and if nothing else, he has generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about. I haven’t been paying close attention to it but you’ve heard me talk about it in the past about the need for us to have an active citizenry. Sometimes that is messy and controversial and it gets people angry and frustrated but I’d rather have young people who are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.

My suspicion is that over time he will refine how he is thinking about it and maybe some of his critics we start seeing that he has a point around certain concerns around justice and equality and that is how we move forward. Sometimes it is messy but it’s the way democracy works.

The controversy also inspired a statement from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump who suggested Kaepernick leave the country. Police have also been moved to threaten a boycott of the 49ers games.

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