I want to start this article by stating a few things about myself. One, I do not follow the NFL as closely as many Americans (more of a baseball fan). Two, I have little to no respect for President Trump. Three, I believe in the first amendment.
Now that we have made each other’s acquaintance, as a journalist I will do my due diligence in remaining as unbiased as possible while tackling this topic. I will do my best to look at both ends of the spectrum and if I miss anything, I encourage you to write me with your opinion. So, without further ado…
At this point in time, I am almost certain that most people are familiar with the situation regarding ex-49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protest. Last NFL season, Kaepernick decided to protest inequality and the racial divide in the United States by taking a knee on the sideline while the national anthem was being played.
After the election of President Trump and the worsening state of racial relations in the country, more NFL players have followed Kaepernick’s lead. Entire teams have been known to lean one way or the other with the whole team kneeling or maybe staying in the locker room during the anthem.
As the protests have grown, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with the NFL’s seemingly directed jabs at him. This situation has escalated to the point where Trump is trying to get NFL team owners to force their players to stand.
Okay, we are caught up. Let’s take a timeout. This is a difficult topic to touch on because there are so many ways in which it can be spun. So, I want to look at this controversy from the two simplest angles: why the players should kneel and why the players should stand. Try to imagine that each point is a different person pleading their case. At the end, I will choose a side.
First, the players should kneel because there is obviously a great deal of tension within this country. The civil rights movement is long but over. Living in southwest Virginia, I interact with people who are racist and prejudiced daily. In this area, and many others I am sure, this inexplicable hatred has deep roots in our society. This is not a new problem, but one that has been handed down for generations.
Last time I checked, the NFL is an American organization. Most of the players are American. The first amendment is a staple of American society. I am no math major or political science major, but I know one plus one equals two and freedom of speech plus American citizens equals the right to protest whatever they want.
We, as American citizens, cannot allow a tyrannical government or leader control us. We must be allowed to voice our opinions. We must be allowed to protest in peace. No one can take that away from us.
Second, the players should have to stand because it is disrespectful to kneel. Men and women fought and died for our right to stand during the national anthem. I am sure many wounded veterans would give anything to stand for the national anthem. Not only is it disrespectful not to stand, it is probably illegal.
People should be proud to live in America. This is a storied country with a symbolic song that people should love and respect with all their hearts. These football players are just trying to start trouble; we would have no issues if they did not start them to begin with.
There you have it, the two most popular points of view on this topic. I honestly tried to be unbiased when giving the argument for each side to make things fair, but now I will pick a side.
While I understand the argument for both sides, I must say that players should have the right to kneel. There is no government law, to my knowledge, that requires citizens to stand for the national anthem. Yet, many of the people saying they should stand are clad in American flag clothing, which violates the United States Flag Code.
Also, in recent weeks, there have been articles released about Nate Boyer, the veteran and former NFL player, that wrote to Kaepernick and suggested he kneel rather than sit. Kneeling is associated with the process of folding the flag after the death of a loved veteran and presenting it to the loved one.
When I think of the comparison of Kaepernick kneeling and the presentation of a flag to a family member, I think of it as the NFL players sending a message to our country and president that something is dying. Whether it be that they are trying to kill racism or maybe that the country is broken and could be headed down a dark road.
As I stated before, Americans have the right to believe whatever they want. Likewise, those who disagree with the kneeling during the national anthem are every bit as entitled to their opinion and I respect it fully.
To clarify, I do not watch as much football as others, so I cannot make my judgement from a die-hard fan’s standpoint. Although I do not like the President of the United States or agree with anything he says, I understand his argument about disrespecting the country. And the first amendment is the key to the entire situation as both parties have the right to make statements and judgements on whatever they so please.
I ask that anyone reading this please send in short submissions with their opinion on the subject to possibly be published online or in print. It is important to myself and The Highland Cavalier that every attitude is given the chance to be fairly represented.
America is great. We have the founding fathers to thank for that. Thomas, George and the gang may have left a few flaws, but this is a great country that never needed to be made great again. We simply need to find a comfortable crouching position for the kneelers and standers.