NFL players take a knee; spark controversy

Michael McKee, Sports Editor, Culture Editor

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Many NFL players have begun kneeling during the national anthem in light of President Trump’s comments on the league. When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, first took a knee during the playing of the national anthem on August 26, 2016, he got ridiculed for bringing politics into sports. Kaepernick said he took a knee because, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” While many may find this reasonable, others think of this as a great disrespect. Starting on Sunday, September 24, teams all over the country took a knee during the playing of the national anthem; the Titans and the Seahawks even went as far to refuse to come out of the locker room. So here is the real question: are the people who are taking a knee protesting President Donald Trump, or oppression, and is it right to knee during the playing of our country’s national anthem?

When President Trump started his feud with the NFL, stating that NFL owners should be able to fire players for kneeling, players responded with a massive protest throughout the weekend. Just over 200 NFL players and staff took a knee during the singing of the national anthem while others locked arms in unity with other players. When players took a knee, the massive ridicules from the stands were easy to hear. Before Trump’s accusations, Kaepernick’s kneeling movement had little support, but right after Trump’s comments, the whole NFL seems to respond. While many knelt during the national anthem, almost everyone else locked arms in unity, showing that the NFL stands together and not in any way disrespecting the flag or America. After Trump’s vulgar remarks about the NFL (and Stephen Curry coming to the White House), players across the country took it to heart.

LeSean McCoy, a running back for the Buffalo Bills, addressed the issue to the New York Times after his game against the Denver Broncos. He said he “can not stand and support something where our leader of this country is just acting like a jerk, you know, angry and upset about N.F.L. players protesting peacefully.” This shows some players who are now peaceably protesting are not doing so against oppression but more against President Trump.

If players are going to protest, they should do so in a respectful fashion such as locking arms or they could take a knee before the playing of the anthem, like Jerry Jones and the whole team of the Dallas Cowboys did during the Monday night game on September 25. The right to protest is very important that is why it is in the First Amendment. If players want to protest for something meaningful or not, they have every right to do so.

Growing up in a military family, I was taught to love and respect the flag and this country. Without it, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have today. No matter who you are or what your cause is, the people of the United States of America should stand during the national anthem to support everyone who has fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

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