"I am not a (insert topic here) expert, but …" is not typically a phrase that ends well, or is well received. The second someone acknowledges that they don’t have the authority to speak on an issue, it’s typically indicative of a situation where it’s best to spend more time learning about the topic at hand and crafting a grounded perspective accordingly, rather than sharing half-baked opinions.
That is, however, what councilmember Kshama Sawant did last week, acknowledging a relative lack of football knowledge in a press release urging the Seattle Seahawks to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“The working people of Seattle and our youth will be proud to welcome Colin Kaepernick,” said the letter addressed to Pete Carroll and Paul Allen. “Please do everything in your power to sign him to the Seahawks.”
We’re all entitled to our opinion, of course, but it was a somewhat bizarre display from an elected official.
Our politicians don’t typically weigh in on the rosters of local professional sports teams, or even the actions of the athletes themselves. There were no statements out of city hall when then-Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger was suspended by the team last September for his tweets critical of Black Lives Matter, nor when the Seahawks took the field that same month with linked arms in a display of unity during the national anthem in an effort they said was to both honor the flag, but continue the conversation started by Kaepernick.
So, why now?
We’re not particularly outraged or anything about the display, it just seems like kind of a waste of time, and resources, to write the letter and release in the first place. At a time when Seattle is grappling with so many issues, it’s an odd moment to urge the Seahawks to make a personnel decision. There’s also a crucial difference between putting your opinion out there on social media, versus sending something out from your office, with the city’s letterhead.
Every one is free to state an opinion as an individual, but using the position of a city councilmember to forward an opinion such as this changes the situation into one that’s a waste of resources and manpower on the part of the city. It’s certainly a negligible amount, but it’s the principle of the display.
And for what? If one thing’s for certain, the Seahawks aren’t taking their cues from a local politician.
Especially one who isn’t a football expert.