The Real Problem with the NFL Kneeling

I have tried to stay on the sidelines regarding the controversy of the kneeling NFL players. I usually don’t like to talk about anything but films or TV shows on this blog, but this is getting out of hand. From what I see, there seem to be two sides to the controversy: those who state that you have a right to protest, and those who believe you shouldn’t disrespect the flag. I happen to agree with both sides, but something still didn’t feel right about these protests, especially since the side that believes you have the right to protest also states that they aren’t disrespecting the flag. So, I went back to where the kneeling began.

Last year, Colin Kaepernick made this statement: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” When Kaepernick made this statement he told us two reasons why he was protesting: 1. He is no longer going to stand for the flag of a country which oppresses black people, and 2. He is protesting police brutality against black people. For those who are currently saying that kneeling is not a protest against our country, they are incorrect. Kaepernick clearly stated that he had no pride for our country and would not stand in support of it.

Since his statement last September, we have had an election. Our new President, upon reading the the NFL game operations manual, which is distributed to all 32 teams, found that it states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition … It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”

In response to this, President Trump stated that the NFL should fire those players who kneel during the National Anthem. According to the game operational manual, the players should at least be fined, and if it continues should have disciplinary action taken. The President also said, quite eloquently, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”  

The NFL then proceeded to support the protest by allowing (even condoning) the kneeling to continue, in addition to the linking of arms. The protest, which began as a statement against police brutality in our country, has become a protest against our President and the country. Players who link arms may be saying that they are simply supporting their teammates who are protesting, but what they are really protesting now is our nation, not police brutality and oppression.

The flag is the symbol of our country. It’s 13 red and white stripes and 50 white stars against a blue background carry great significance to who we are as a nation. Those stripes represent the 13 colonies and our early stand against injustice and the fight for equality and fairness. White: purity and innocence; Red: hardiness and valor; Blue: vigilance and perseverance and justice. The red in particular honors those who died in battle for our country, those who lost their lives for our freedom, even our freedom to kneel.

Show some respect to those who have given you that freedom. What upsets me most is that kneeling during the anthem is a blatant disrespect for the very symbol which represents our country and the freedoms we have fought and died for.  If you can’t show proper respect for that, then you don’t deserve to be on the field, at the very least.

From the beginning, Kaepernick could have given more thought to how to appropriately protest the police, but he started a wildfire by encompassing the nation within his protest.  Who would have thought how far it would spread?

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