It's OK To Be Upset With Athletes Protesting the National Anthem, But You're Overreacting

It's OK To Be Upset With Athletes Protesting the National Anthem, But You're Overreacting

Kneeling is a peaceful protest and should be treated as such.
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It is no secret that professional athletes and their teams have angered their respective fan bases by sitting or kneeling when the United States national anthem is played before games, as opposed to the routine procedure of standing.

The U.S. has experienced an increasing amount of political turmoil. Athletes have brought it upon themselves to voice their displeasure by protesting peacefully, particularly NFL players. Some reactions have shown indifference, while others have been inflammatory. In the latter’s case, scores of fans have ranted about boycotting the leagues of their teams and vowing to never watch another game again. Their anger is understandable, but most of these people are overreacting.

Many fans were angered by the actions of these athletes because they feel that the national anthem goes in conjunction with the United States flag, which is brought out before the anthem is played or sung. In protesting during the anthem, they feel that these players are protesting the flag, which represents the country itself.

In addition, military veterans are often present for the national anthem, and the flag also represents the American military to these fans. There are many in America that feel strongly about their country and their military, so any perceived disrespect of the flag will get them riled up.

The anger and vitriol of those who feel strongly for their nation are understandable, and they wish to show it by not watching or attending games. However, many of these people are overreacting to what is a peaceful protest.

These athletes have several reasons for protesting during the national anthem, most prominently the racial division in the United States. Several athletes have stated that they are protesting because of hate crimes that involve Caucasians shooting African-Americans, most notably by police officers.

Others are protesting the presidency of Donald Trump and the inequality he has spurred on from his supporters. There have been examples of racism by some Americans during and after President Trump’s initial campaign, such as “White Power” painted on a wall with the Nazi symbol or white supremacists protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

These examples of racial inequality are the primary reason that athletes are protesting during the national anthem. The United States preaches peace, freedom, and equality, but they feel that the current state of affairs does not align with what the country is supposed to represent.

Athletes have repeatedly shown respect for the military, and do not hold a grudge against them like many fans are interpreting. When the NFL protests initially began with Colin Kaepernick, he was recommended to take a knee by a military veteran, as opposed to sitting down. Many athletes followed suit to show respect for veterans who fight for their country while still protesting the racial inequality prevalent in the United States in these modern times.

People are overreacting to athletes’ protesting during the national anthem before games, and they should not because these protests are peaceful and do not hurt anyone.

Cover Image Credit: Keith Allison | Wikimedia

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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