Do labels define the loyalty of Colin Kaepernick? Really?

Ronald Martinez

When it comes to the relationship between professional sports, fans and fashion, the cap is arguably the most common way to show support of a team. Can people really call Kap disloyal for wearing a Dolphins hat?

Holy Hatgate.

Yesterday, I wrote an article in jest about the reactions of some fans to Colin Kaepernick wearing a Miami Dolphins hat to the beach. Yes, the article was tongue in cheek, but there's an element of truth in certain fans' behavior. Some of the reactions were downright ridiculous and borderline insane (e.g., some said Kap should be traded). Yes, you read it right. Some fans are of the opinion the 49ers should trade Kap because he sported a Dolphins lid.

Now, I get why fans are upset. As fans, we are fanatical. We set our own stupid, arbitrary rules when it comes to sports. For example, I would personally never represent another team. Ever. You root for your team, win or lose. You do not get to change if your team starts losing. You get the glory when they win and you go down with the ship if they lose.

I have taken my arbitrary rules a step further. I honestly believe people should root for a team based on where they are from. Who roots for another high school or college? You root for your school, right? Same concept, you root for your city. And, if you move, you don't get to change. Now, there are some exceptions.

If you are born in Guam or Montana (or some other middle of nowhere place) you can pick. Or, like religion, parents can pass down their respective sports team down to their children. Even so, to earn my respect as a fan, you have to pick one city and stick with it. You don't get to be a NY Yankees, LA Lakers, Dallas Cowboys fan. It's one of my arbitrary sports rules.

Now, I know there are already some of you taking exception to this rule. Honestly, over the past few months of engaging with fans here at Niners Nation, I have softened my opinion in this regard. There are diehard 49ers fans and some have never stepped foot in San Francisco. And, some of you know more and are more passionate than many so-called fans from the city. I guess -- love is where you find it.

But, like it or not, football is part of our American culture. Our arbitrary sports rules are not recognized by the masses. The fashion craze nowadays is to own a boatload of hats and sometimes all 32 NFL teams. Honestly, I do not endorse it. It is weird. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but people wear a team's label -- because they like the hat, not the team. Ask somebody about the team they rep and see what they know. You might be a little surprised. Not everyone is a diehard fan when it comes to sporting a team.

As a sports fan, I do not like it. Also, can you take the sticker off? If it was meant to stay there, the NFL would've had in embroidered it on. Whatever. It's the thing. I also believe caps were meant to keep the sun out of your eyes; but if you want to rock it crooked, by all means, go for it.

But, with these trends, I realized something. Clothes do not make the fan.

And, it goes both ways. With the 49ers recent success, more and more jerseys started to appear. These new fans were all decked out. As if. I mean, here I had put up with a decade of 49ers' woes and some brand new fan gets to rep my team in the same way? No way. No way we're fan equals. No way do clothes make you a fan. That, makes you a frontrunner.

I suspect Kap rocks the labels the same way as most in this generation do. Honestly, I cannot identify with it. My fan gear is special and takes on meaning, but I don't expect everyone to hold it in the same esteem. The trends do not conform to my arbitrary sports rules. But, whether it is our franchise quarterback or some frontrunner fan, clothes no longer show the same significance.

So, I know people are taking issue with Kap being a leader and a representative of our franchise, our brand. Again, I understand the argument. But, it is different now. You do not have to like it, but many of our arbitrary sports rules are no longer recognized by players.

Players like Colin Kaepernick are wearing labels to show they are in charge of their freedom, their identity. So, yeah -- I wouldn't do it. But, I put it into perspective. When it comes to leadership, clothes and accessories are of zero relevance to them. I only want Kap to show me leadership on the field. These days, I judge loyalty and franchise respect differently. As Seinfeld put it, "we are rooting for laundry."

OK, what say you? Get it out now. I am ready to put this issue to rest. Can we put it to rest?

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