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GAA sleep-out again displays social conscience in sport

By Declan Bogue

There have been so many great pieces done on the study of Colin Kaepernick that it can be tempting to spend an entire day reading about him.

By now you will know the story but just to reiterate, the 30-year-old American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers decided to launch his own protest at racial inequality in America.

During the typically overblown rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, he would go down on a knee. It led to no less than the current President of the United States blasting fellow NFL anthem protesters: 'Get that son of a b**** off the field'.

Currently, Kaepernick is out of work and has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and its owners, alleging they colluded to refuse to hire him.

He won't starve. After all, he is a man who signed a seven-year deal in 2014 for a $126m fee, of which he has received a third. But still, it takes something to walk away from money on that scale to stand up for what is right.

It was a rare example of athletes displaying their social conscience.

We have had a great example of this over the last week in the GAA, with a number of players of both genders and across all codes signing up for a country-wide sleep-out on December 16 in solidarity with Ireland's homeless, under the umbrella group, 'Gaelic Voices for Change'.

The deaths of two men in Dublin last week, one in a tent pitched near the grounds of secondary school Gonzaga, the other a Lithuanian man who had been sleeping near the Four Courts, brings the homeless epidemic into sharp focus. Many Ulster GAA figures are committing to the night, including Tyrone's Gemma Begley and Slaughtneil's Chrissy McKaigue.

But in entering the public realm and raising this issue - by the way, homelessness has jumped 24% in a year while politicians have sought to label the problem as typical in a functioning society - they have already shown a little of what can be done. Excellent work indeed.

Belfast Telegraph

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