There has been a lot of fuss over the NFL games starting on September 24, 2017, specifically with the way players were treating the national anthem.
Many players, during the national anthem, were kneeling in protest. It started with Colin Kaepernick, a NFL player for the 49ers, who started kneeling to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Since then, several other players have knelt in support of Kaepernick, but there was an increase in kneeling players during Sunday’s Star Spangled Banner in response to Donald Trump’s reaction to the protest.
Donald Trump tweeted “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” He believes that the players who kneel during the national anthem should be suspended or fired, and after expressing this belief to the public, 200 NFL players took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday. This, of course, started a huge debate. Is it disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem? And what does the national anthem represent?
One side of the argument says that it is a sign of disrespect because our veterans fought for our freedom. Our veterans fought for our right to kneel, and some lost their lives for that freedom, so we need to stand for the injured veterans and the ones who lost their lives fighting. The other side of the argument says that we have a freedom of speech, that includes freedom of symbolic speech, and we have a right to protest. Before this protest, kneeling was seen as a sign of respect. Players take a knee when someone gets hurt, people kneel to pray, and so on. Others believe the NFL players who knelt on Sunday were just protesting Trump himself.
When he started protesting, Kaepernick said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...” He was showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement going on, but some argue that there is a time and place for that and it’s not when we are saluting our flag. I guess it depends on what you believe the flag stands for. Some believe it represents veterans and all who fight for our freedom. Some believe it represents this country as a whole.
Before Kaepernick started kneeling for the national anthem, he sat. According to CNN “It was [Nate] Boyer who helped him [the quarterback of the 49ers] and his teammates come to the decision to kneel, a more respectful option. Kaepernick was on board” (cnn.com). Nate Boyer was a former NFL player and an Army Veteran himself. Whether you think it is disrespectful or not, the NFL players kneeling during the national anthem got the attention they wanted.
All opinions aside, I believe everyone has a right to their opinion, and I encourage you to be open-minded about the each side of the argument no matter where you stand. Ask someone who thinks differently from you what they think and why.
Don’t let this divide our country apart more than it already is.