Football came back with a vengeance this year and not because of a few close games but for more controversial reasons. Wouldn’t think a game with the concept of getting a ball across a line could ruffle so many feathers but the season opening night did just that; after players choosing to kneel during the national anthem. Is this admirable or disrespectful?
Colin Kaepernick, who plays for the San Francisco 49er’s, started a media frenzy after kneeling during the national anthem before the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. The NFL season returned on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. So for some, Kaepernick’s bold gesture was seen as even more disrespectful. Along with Colin, his teammate Eric Reid also knelt. Kaepernick has refused to stand for the anthem for the entire season in protest of police brutality and racial oppression in the U.S.
Brandon Marshall who plays for the Denver Broncos has lost 2 endorsements so far because of his decision to kneel as well, during the anthem. An older white male and a Broncos fan, showed up outside their headquarters and lit a shirt on fire with Marshalls name on it. I get the feeling that’s not the only thing he’s ever put a match to. All 53 players of the Seattle Seahawks interlocked arms as a show of unity against police brutality and racial matters, so did the Kansas City Chiefs. Marcus Peters, cornerback for the Chiefs, raised his fist during the anthem. Four players of the Miami Dolphins also chose to kneel, as well as several other players. This protest has now spilled over into other sports.
Like Megan Rapinoe, star player to the women’s U.S. National soccer team who decided to kneel during the anthem. The team owner has decided to play the anthem early to deny her protest next game. Rapinoe expressed her kneeling was a “little nod to Kaepernick” and “being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all your liberties.”
While this protest stands for something great and more important than sports, there has been major backlash. Many people feel these players have disrespected the country, the military, and the police force. Even NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, has expressed his displeasure with the protest. Celebs like model Kate Upton, has been vocal about her opinion as well. Opening night she tweeted how they should be “proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other.” Just stick to modeling Kate.
Some Bay Area police officers went as far to boycott providing security at the 49er’s games. Tomi Lahren even tweeted a picture of Marcus holding up his fist and said “so blinded by victimhood some forget today was about something more.” It’s ok, Tomi hardly ever says anything remotely intelligent.
So is all of this protesting worth the amount of hate and uproar? Short answer, hell yes. The amount of negativity thrown these players direction because they want to induce positive changes should be enough to prove why all this is necessary. There’s going to be resistance from a lot of people because most don’t want to acknowledge the reality; simply because the reality isn’t very good.
Kneeling or sitting during the national anthem can be taken as a sign of disrespect for our country and the men and women that fight for it. But it doesn’t mean, as free as this country is, that we don’t have our fair share of problems. And if the national anthem is the wrong time to take a stance, then when is the right time?
These athletes are more than just people running around with balls in their hands for our weekly entertainment. Many of them are minorities or have experienced injustice or maybe they’re just sick of staying quiet. I could see if they were kneeling because they were trying to disrespect our police force or the armed forces. But they have explained the protests having nothing to do with disrespecting or hating cops. They’re not just stopping there either, these sports stars are actually backing up their words. Collin pledged to donate $1 million of his salary to organizations that help inner city communities and 49er owner Jed York, matched the donation in support.
I understand how scary it can be to confront problems. Denial feels safer but that doesn’t change the reality of things and the reality is, we are still losing innocent lives to police brutality, senseless violence and racism. We’re just as sick of this being an issue as some are annoyed with talking about it. The more it happens, the less safe we feel, and the more drastic measures we’ll take to be heard and hopefully end this crisis. So sorry to screw up your football game but people are dying.
Don’t interpret protests as disrespect or lack of love for this country. This is just a way to bring awareness to a very dangerous and prevalent issue. Chances are if you’re not a minority, this can be difficult to comprehend because these issues may not affect you.
So for those that ignorantly think that since we have a black president now (ahem, Kate Upton), racism has finally been defeated. Think again.
I applaud Kaepernick for being brave enough to make a stand after knowing the risks and predicting the backlash. Especially with his platform and it seems he has a lot more support than hate now that the shock has died a little. High schools, colleges, even little leagues across the nation have been making the same gestures of solidarity. That’s real unity.
Until everyone, no matter their color, sexual orientation, religion, gender or whatever else, can recite the national anthem and are confident in those words; the fight for equality will continue. America was built from an amazing idea, now let’s bring it to fruition.