Forcing Athletes to Stand During the National Anthem is Fascist

Forcing Athletes to Stand During the National Anthem is Fascist

The new NFL policy raises a red flag for this country's direction.
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In 2016, American football quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem before the start of the games. He later described his actions as an act of protest against racial injustice in the United States. His protest had been met by praise as well as anger by activist and NFL fans alike. Many of the fans demanded Kaepernick be suspended and even jailed for not standing for the national anthem. The President of the United States, Donald Trump even tweeted “Get that son of a b**** off the field now. Out! He’s fired!”

Despite the outrage, the NFL allowed Kaepernick to continue playing, however he wasn’t drafted for the 2017 and again for 2018 despite his talent. Kaepernick wasn’t the only professional football player to kneel during the national anthem, Kaepernick also kneeled with teammate Eric Reid and later in the 2016 NFL preseason, Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane also did not stand for the national anthem. In the regular season, other athletes including Denver Broncos player Brandon Marshall, as well as Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins. More people protested in the 2017 season as well including twenty-seven members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars during their game at Wembley Stadium in London. Protest continued throughout the season with players from various teams choosing to kneel, stay in the lockers or interlock arms during the national anthem. However, it was announced this year that the NFL created a policy banning players for displaying any form of protest during the national anthem. According to the policy, if an NFL athlete is protesting on the field during the national anthem at anytime, they will be subject to discipline from the league. Furthermore, the entire team will also be subject to discipline form the league following the incident. Discipline can include fines and even suspension.

In the past, the NFL didn’t require that the athletes stand for the national anthem, stating in the guidelines that they “should”stand for the anthem. Making this policy change removes the choice. Many who believe that this policy change is fair believe that standing for the flag and the anthem is a way to show patriotism for the country as well as people who have fought to protect this country. For me, this is similar to a school forcing children to stand during the pledge of allegiance, threatening kids detention or suspension if they don’t comply even if they don’t necessarily agree with what the pledge stands for. The issue with forcing people to be patriotic is that they aren’t given the choice to be proud of their country.

I feel a lot of people can agree that America as a country has major problems. It’s not perfect. And as a citizens, we shouldn’t be required to support that if we think it’s wrong. That’s why we protest. That’s why we speak out. There are countries past and present that don’t allow their citizens to speak out if there is something wrong. There are people who might feel that protesting is unpatriotic, but really it’s admitting that there are things that need to be fixed in this country and that it’s okay to admit that and start the conversation. Believing that you should support the country no matter what isn’t patriotism, it’s nationalism. And forcing people to be a twisted version of patriotic is definitely on a road to fascism.

Thankfully, as a citizen, I do have a choice whether or not I want to stand during the national anthem or whether or not I want to speak out against this country or whether or not I can write this article about this issue. But seeing franchises like NFL supporting policies like this that are supported by our very own president, it raises a giant red flag.

If you want to consider yourself, patriotic, go ahead, but understand what that actually means. It doesn’t mean supporting the country no matter what. It means supporting the good things about your country and not the bad. And forcing people to support your country is what fascists do. It’s what dictators do. We are supposed to be the land of the free and a sport that advertises itself as iconically American forcing it’s athletes to stand “in respect” for a song and a flag is not free.

Cover Image Credit: pexels

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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