by Jason Thiel and Evan Swearingen – Staff Writers
The NFL has been something that has brought Americans together for decades. Families and friends get together to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the field. Of course, there have been controversies and it causes arguments and drama, but at the end of the day, the sport generally brings people together. Because of this, these players have a huge influence on their viewers. Kids idolize these people as heroes who persevere through the worst of the worst in order to attain success. So, why is it so insulting for these heroes to take a stand for what they believe for? Why is a large portion of the country, including our president, chastising them for using their rights laid down by the founding fathers to speak up for what they believe in?
First off, because I respect the rights of these players to take a knee or lock arms, I also understand that people have the right to speak out against it. Both are examples of free speech and expression, which are protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, I have an issue with people who think that these players should be fired or that they should not be doing what they are doing. For example, President Trump encouraged the coaches to fire the players who took a knee during the anthem, which would be a blatantly obvious violation of the First Amendment. Shouldn’t the President of the United States understand what the basic rights of free speech are, that are outlined in the document that regulates him and our government? It is like trying to play a sport but not knowing any of the rules. You just sort of grab a ball and run around until you get tackled, hit with a bat, slip on ice, etc. Anyone who did that would look like a bumbling baboon with no intelligence or coordination.
Additionally, a lot of people have taken the stance that the players should not be taking a knee because it is disrespectful to our flag. This is something that is just backwards. People have fought and died for this country to protect the rights that the players are using, and they have absolutely every right to do it. They are not gunning people down to get back at the government, they are taking a knee during the national anthem to peacefully protest certain things that are happening in this country. I respect if you are a veteran and feel personally upset, but you have to remember that objectively, they can and should stand up for what they believe in, peacefully. I acknowledge why people would feel upset that the players are doing that, which is respective a different perspective. That same logic needs to be applied to these players by the people upset at the NFL, because otherwise our country will continue to polarize until it’s irreversible.
Across the nation, athletes on professional teams have been debating if kneeling instead of standing for our national anthem is a righteous way to protest injustice and police brutality against minorities.
American people, due to overexposure, have become numb to the real message of the Star-Spangled Banner: Homage to their soldiers that have faced tragedies and died to protect the United States, and recognizing the colony’s victory over the British, resulting in the United States’ value of freedom. Using that given freedom to protest what gave them freedom is not only an oxymoron, but disrespectful to the fighting soldiers and veterans as well. The song is about the United States’ triumph over opposition. Not standing for that is not thanking veterans for their service.
It is an issue that our national anthem is played entirely too often, causing this disconnect between Americans and what their national anthem stands for. The national anthem has no real right to even be played at many sports games except for international ones. Sports do not symbolize freedom or respect for troops in any way. However, while sports is absolutely no place for politics, the national anthem is certainly no platform to protest police brutality because it inherently communicates that American values are worthless, even if that’s not the intention of those who protest.
Some may argue that it is okay to kneel for the flag instead of standing for it because it exercises the citizens’ first amendment right—specifically, the right to peacefully protest. While this is true, and citizens absolutely have the right to not stand for the flag, that doesn’t mean
that they should. Kneeling for the flag still argues against freedom and respect, which ends up being morally grey at best.
Standing versus not standing is so much more than a battle of patriotism. Some may even view that kneeling is patriotic by bringing an issue to light, in an attempt to better this country. This is not to downplay the problem that is police brutality on minorities, but there are definitely better ways of bringing those issues to light in a way that doesn’t disrespect others.