Pre-Game Controversy

Alex Gise

There has been lots of controversy due to a recent movement where NFL players kneel during the national anthem. Is it disrespectful, or is it simply a protest meant to highlight racial disparities within America? Opinions have varied greatly.

Players are protesting the injustices people of color still face in America today. NFL players are using their position of fame as a platform to voice their opinions on this oppression and an ineffective criminal justice system. Trump has argued that the protests are unpatriotic and disrespectful to the flag and those who have fought to protect the US, while the players argue that they are using their right to free speech by not participating in the anthem. They usually stand with their hands over their hearts or kneeling.

NFL player Eric Reid, who plays for the San Francisco 49ers, wrote an article for The New York Times justifying the actions of his former teammate Colin Kaepernick, who was suspended from the team. “ After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”  He also stated how shocked he was that Colin was made out to be the bad guy when his intentions were nothing but out of the respect for the people who live in this country and those who are treated unfairly.

Reid continued to say, “I am nevertheless encouraged to see my colleagues and other public figures respond to the president’s remarks with solidarity with us. It is paramount that we take control of the story behind our movement, which is that we seek equality for all Americans, no matter their race or gender.” Football players who have decided to kneel and join the movement have stated the action is out of a desire for respect and equality for all.

President Trump took matters into his own hands and tweeted out, Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem,”, “Respect our Flag and our Country!” However, NFL players are proceeding with the kneeling movement and continue to protest despite criticism from Trump.

The NFL kneeling movement is quickly spreading from the 49ers to many other teams. The Seahawks’ decided to lock arms, which was seen as a powerful symbol from the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Some players wanted to kneel as a team, but other objected. The protest is beginning to be seen in a positive light, and through their actions, NFL players are drawing attention to some of the most pressing issues the United States faces today.