by Ryan Penta
In August 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat during the national anthem in one of his preseason games. When asked by the media why he sat, Kaepernick explained he was protesting racial inequality and police brutality towards people of color.
Many people were not pleased and did not understand why he was sitting. Because of this, Kaepernick and a teammate of his decided it would be more respectful to kneel as a form of protest instead.
From August 2016 to the present day, more and more NFL players have joined Kaepernick’s cause by kneeling during the Anthem as well.
Earlier this year, President Trump called out NFL owners and told them to kick those “sons of b*****s” off the field if they protest.
President Trump tweeted from his personal account on Sept. 25: “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
Trump’s tweet contradicts Kaepernick’s entire reason to start his protest along with years of players protesting racial injustice on a national stage because Kaepernick started kneeling to protest the oppression of people of color.
Recently, entire NFL teams have either knelt, sat, or locked arms during the national anthem. Contrary to popular belief, they are not protesting the flag, but rather racial inequality and President Donald J. Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted: “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” It’s obvious that the President and Vice President will have the same views on the protests.
Players and teams are showing unity and protesting the President’s comments by exercising their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful protests. Even after everything Kaepernick has told the media, many believe it is disrespectful to the flag and everything that the flag stands for.
A NAHS senior gave their input: “Some veterans lose their legs and can’t stand for the national anthem. The flag represents people who have given their lives for this country and kneeling during the anthem is like spitting in their face.”
While this may be true, the players have no reason to protest the flag and what it stands for. However, they do have a reason to protest Trump after he called them out.
Junior Nate Gonsalves had a very different opinion: “I think it’s straight blasphemy that people think the NFL players are protesting the anthem. They are protesting Trumps comments when he called them sons of b*****s. Everyone knows that soldiers put their life on the line for us and the players definitely don’t take their individual freedom for granted.”
Even professional athletes would agree with Gonsalves. Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall gave his input to the media following his game: “The message isn’t a shot at the flag or a shot at the armed services and people who protect this country. The shot is at social injustice in general. Everybody is trying to band together and say we’re all entitled to our own opinion.”