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Editorial: Football stars exercise their rights by taking a knee

November 14, 2017

Players+of+the+Washington+Redskins+NFL+team+neal+in+pprotest+during+the+anthem
Players of the Washington Redskins NFL team neal in pprotest during the anthem

Players of the Washington Redskins NFL team neal in pprotest during the anthem

Courtesy of Keith Allison

Courtesy of Keith Allison

Players of the Washington Redskins NFL team neal in pprotest during the anthem

Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has started an unlikely trend in the traditional national anthem that is the precursor for every sports game. Kaepernick, during the anthem, took a knee, rather than the traditional standing and hand on the heart.

When asked why, Kaepernick stated “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Since then, other players have followed. Locking arms and kneeling, they have refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem.

President Trump has responded, calling it “disrespectful” to the country, leading more players to kneel as a way of going against the President. After attending a 49ers vs Colts football game, Vice-President Pence immediately left the stadium after watching the football players kneel during the anthem. One can argue that it is the job of the President and the Vice-President to uphold the tradition of standing during the flag.

The decision to protest is understandable in light of recent events. Police brutality and alleged unjustified shootings over President Trump and President Obama’s administrations have caused much division in our country. Many movements like Black Lives Matters have staged protests that turn violent, leading to vandalized property and fights in the streets.

This protest during the national anthem is peaceful. It is better they protest peacefully rather than violently. However the players are on company time. When playing football, they are working. Their form of work is entertainment as well. Although they are using their large platform to protest, it may be more appropriate if they do it in their personal time.

Taking a knee during the anthem was meant to increase awareness to the domestic issue at hand. The media has widely covered this topic, showing that the football players were successful in bringing attention to themselves. The question now is how the fans and the team owners will respond to what the athletes are doing.

The argument is not whether or not the players are allowed to take a knee. Clearly, they are allowed to exercise their first amendment rights and refuse to stand for the national anthem. Veterans who fought for that flag also fought for the right of citizens to use those first amendment rights.

As Americans, we don’t have a lot of common. But one thing that unites us no matter your ethnicity, race, sexiual orientation, or gender is that we are all American. And merely standing during the national anthem and simply placing your hand to your heart for one minute is something everyone can do to unite us.

We need people to talk about racism and injustice in our country. It is something that has to be addressed so America can continue to progress and grow, giving equal opportunity to everyone. Let’s address that at a more appropriate time and place. Give speeches, debate, and talk it out. But know the difference between the right time and the wrong one.

 

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