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Are football players right to protest the anthem?

September 22, 2016

 

 

Prior to a National Football League preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 26, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down during the playing of the national anthem in what he called a protest of wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

Following the game, Kaepernick spoke to the media and gave an explanation.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL.com. The NFL released a statement later that read, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”

Weeks later, the controversy rages on and shows no signs of stopping as football players from other pro, college and even high school teams sit or take a knee during the anthem in protest.

Players at every level are being reprimanded for sitting during the anthem, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who lost many sponsorships after taking a knee before the nationally broadcast NFL opener. High school players are being suspended for replicating Kaepernick’s actions.

The quarterback has triggered protests from not only other football players, but from athletes in other sports. Professional women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe, a representative of the U.S. in multiple international tournaments, took a knee prior to a United States friendly against Thailand. The United State Soccer Federation immediately released a statement that said, “As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the National Anthem is played.”

The question that everyone seems to have an opinion on: Is it right for Kaepernick, or anyone for that matter, to protest during the national anthem?

Many supporters of Kaepernick say of course he can kneel because this is a free country. He has the right as an American to protest however he sees fit and should not face any consequences. He is simply using the platform he has to send out his message.

On the other hand, his opponents will say he is disrespecting the flag, this country and those who have fought for the freedom he is using to protest.

Some “neutral” athletes have come out to say they support Kaepernick’s message but not his method, including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan.

““I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States,” Villanueva said. “You can’t do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country.”

Whichever side you find yourself on, its hard to say that racism does not still exist in the country, but using a method that causes as much of a stir as it has can only be counter-productive.

              

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