It is fine for taking the knee to be controversial. The very fact that #TakeAKnee trended probably meant that many people clicked into it and took the time to research why Kaepernick took the knee. Even if they cared about the disrespect more than they cared about the issue itself, they were at least reminded of the issue of police violence. All of this is significant coverage and attention on police violence. This also doesn’t count all of the people who, inspired by Kaepernick, repeated his actions of taking a knee during the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s death in 2020.
Additionally, athletes are not just athletes. They are humans as well. Just as athletes are allowed to smile, cry, and express emotion even when playing on the field, they should be allowed to care about things. The fact that police officers boycotted games simply because someone pointed out their brutality only demonstrates how much change is needed in the country.